Wednesday, 20 February 2013


After my pleasant little detour off on the subject of family history, it's back today to the more mundane subject of the reserve and birds.
Late afternoon on Monday, in beautiful sunny and calm weather, I carried out the fifth harrier roost count of this winter on the reserve. The afternoon gradually became a most beautiful sunset and early evening and apart from one wildfowler out on the far edge of the saltings, I had the place to myself and thoroughly enjoyed it. At last I could enjoy the comfort of the new Seawall Hide from which to watch, so much better than the exposure and cold wind of the top of the seawall, the hide has received much praise since it's been there. As is always the case with the harriers, they always leave it until pretty much the last of the good light and you are frozen cold, before they eventually drift along the saltings and drop into the Shellness saltings to roost. After a nil count in January I was pleased to record three ring-tail Hen Harriers go into roost, one of them even alighting on the sea wall, yards from me first.
Today, with it being February 20th and therefore the last day of this winter's wildfowling season, I arrived on the sea wall not long after first light this morning. There was just the one lone wildfowler freezing his bits off out on the saltings as the photo above shows. It's not a very well lit photo but he is the little black blob in the middle of the saltings, it's not a blackfly on the lenses. When he eventually came back to the sea wall we had a pleasant chat for a while about all things birds and shooting, when he could stop his teeth from chattering, that is. I have no real problem with those guys these days but it will be nice now until September to have the early mornings to myself.
The two photos below show the extent of the excellent conditions for both wildfowl and waders across The Flood on the reserve at the moment and the large numbers of both there are well worth coming and viewing from the Sea Wall Hide in front of them.

Yesterday in The Flood alone, I had 60 White-fronted Geese, 70 Greylag Geese, 800 Brent Geese, 600 Wigeon, 500 Teal, 160 Mallard, 20 Gadwall, 40 Shoveler, 160 Shelduck, 40 Pintail, 1100 Lapwing, 80 Coot, 180 Black-headed Gull, plus numerous other waders. Today, I also spotted the Hooded Crow again and had 2 Bearded Tits alongside the hide.

Today, I estimated the Lapwing count across all the reserve to be c.1800 birds and the Shelduck number had increased to +200.
Another event, in the adjacent maize fields, as well as several thousand Wood Pigeons, there is now a daily Starling flock of close on a 1000 birds regularly performing all manner of aerial gyrations every time a raptor passes by. There is a lot to see on the reserve from the sea wall and its hide at the moment and it'd be nice to see people witness the birds before they disperse for the summer.


  1. Nice to know the shooters time is up for a few months. Some good counts Derek. White fronted Geese seem very thin on the ground elsewhere in Kent and thats a good number of Shelduck there as well. Could you pass the Hooded Crow on to Reculver now please!!

  2. Marc, you've had more than enough rare birds this last few months, we'll keep that one to ourselves me thinks. Lovely to hear the calls of the Whiterfont flock as they fly to and fro across the reserve and if recent years are anything to go by, they'll be around till early April.