Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Marching into Spring

Walking across the reserve this morning under blue skies, sunshine, light winds, mild temperatures and with Skylarks singing, it would have been so easy to assume that it was a typical March day, it was so Springlike. Obviously there are grotty days still to come but this morning really had that feel that Spring was just around the corner, hopefully this year it is. Its guaranteed that this weather won't suit everybody, what weather does, and reading other blogs this week there are those that still want a cold blast to hit us because they feel that they've missed out on some cold weather birds, but for me, loads more of today's weather please, its so uplifting.
See how peacefull and fresh the farmland alongside the reserve looked this morning, you can almost hear the Skylarks singing.

I first had a walk across to the sea wall to see if the Whitefronted Geese were still insitu in the Flood and yes, they were, feeding alongside the resident Greylag Geese. A rough count totalled a 160+ birds so my proper count of 167 on Monday was probaly still about right. What a lovely sight and sound these geese are, I just love their high, "winkling" calls as they communicate with each other, so much more exciting than the brash, farmyard geese calls of the Greylags. These birds spend most of the day feeding fairly close to the reserve's Sea Wall Hide and so are easily watched by any passing birdwatchers. That point came back to me when I eventually got home and realised that despite having my camera on my back I had still completely forgot to take a photograph of the geese.

Despite the beauty of the day it was hardly wall to wall birds on the marsh and even harriers were hard to come by today, I eventually saw just the one Marsh Harrier, and for the first time in weeks, no S. E. Owls. Other than that it was just a few Skylarks and Reed Buntings, an Egret or two and a couple of Herons. But I could see two birdwatchers making their way along the raised bund between the two RSPB fields and so, guessing that they were looking for the Lapland Buntings there I walked over to have a chat. They turned out to be two long-time Kentish birdwatchers, Bob Bland and Alan Woodcock and while watching the Lapland Buntings this morning in near perfect conditions, had managed to raise the count to around 50 birds, a phenominal count for recent times. Most winters, birdwatchers will be lucky to see or hear just one or two Laps. flying past overhead, so what has caused this number to all appear in such a high number. The two RSPB fields are about as good and seed laden as you can get for these buntings but how the heck so did so many find their way to exactly that spot, or are they always there flying round in the winter and have called each other in. Apparently 90 is the highest count recorded in Kent in the last 30 years so there's still some way to go but what a blinder these birds are just at the moment.

After that there wasn't really a lot more bird-lfe left to see and the real event of the morning was carrying on being able to enjoy such beautiful weather as I walked round - a return to cold weather - not for me I'm afraid, I'm happy to miss seeing a Redwing or a Waxwing this winter.
One last note, it appears that we have a pair of Barn Owls back at the reserve barn again this year, which is really good news.


  1. Its days like these I was I was out birding and not working. My camera is desperate to get out of the bag, it might tonight though about 4.15pm when its getting dark, great!

  2. Well, I truly sympathise with you Marc, its still fantastic now as I type this looking across Minster Shingle Bank and the thames Estuary to Southend.
    But don't forget I had to serve my time doing penance at work just the same as you are, but it does come round eventually.

  3. Hi Derek, it certainly is a beautiful day out there. I'll be in touch soon if that's ok, I was made redundant on Monday so have just got a few things to sort out, then I'm planning one day out a week until I get another job, so one day in the week over the next couple weeks might be on the cards!!

  4. Bloody hell Alan, that's bad news.
    A visit shouldn't be a problem, just check the weather forecast and give me a couple of days notice and we'll take it from there.

  5. Those winter birds are still here in the south of Sweden, where our weather is equally mild. Why move on when there's food here? If you see them turning up at Harty you'll know we're shovelling snow ...

  6. Will do Derek, thanks see you soon.