Sunday 3 January 2016

Moving On

Well it's already the third day of the new year and tomorrow most people go back to work after a long Christmas break and us retired patch watchers can get back to normality after, in my case, birdwatchers twitching Twite (who'd of thought it) and wildfowlers on the saltings every morning. Below you can see four wildfowlers at dawn this morning as they looked for a duck that had come down after being shot - they eventually found it. Mind you, despite various wildfowlers being out each morning and some evenings over the holiday period, there have been very few birds shot and it should be a fairly quiet last seven weeks of their shooting season, it normally is.

Despite it being a grey, cold and breezy early morning, I walked through the mud along the top of the seawall and past the wildfowlers, to have a look at the farmland set-aside area where the Twite were seen a few days ago among a large flock of Linnets - this morning there were no birds at all in the weedy area. Nearby however, out on Horse Sands at low tide, there were around 30+ Common Seals stretched out on the sand - nearly 100 were recorded a few days ago, numbers are definitely rising.
It wasn't the best of mornings to hang around though, heavy and prolonged rain had been forecast from mid-morning onward and it was obvious, looking at the darkening of the western sky. that it wasn't that far away. I walked back along the sea wall and crossed onto the grazing marsh in order to walk back across it to the barn and my car.
I never heard or saw the c.160 flock of White-fronted Geese at all this morning but I'll guarantee that they were tucked away somewhere on the reserve near the Tower Hide. Yesterday, after spending several days hoping to spot them, I finally recorded the two male Hen Harriers as they left their roost on the reserve in the dawn half light, they really are a stunning bird.

Walking back across the grazing marsh the visiting Hooded Crow flew across in front of me, fairly close, before alighting some way away. (sorry about the distant photo)

By lunch time the rain had set in with a vengeance, several hours of steady rain but I guess we were due our turn  because it has been more damp and drizzly this last few weeks than actually raining properly. To emphasis that the photo below(in poor light), was taken this morning and it's green grass all the way across to the Sea Wall Hide, waterlogged and muddy perhaps but not under water.

Where as this photo, of the same view, taken in January 2014, shows how wet it was in both the January of 2014 and January 2015, we're a long way from that so far.


  1. Enjoy having the reserve back to yourself again Derek!

  2. Derek, why were the four wildfowlers out on the marsh looking for a duck? Surely they had dogs with them? If they didn't they shouldn't be allowed to shoot - what would happen if a bird is winged, or drops out on the mud, or even, out on The Swale?
    The few members of the North Kent Wildfowlers I have encountered all own Labrador/retrievers of some type purely for this type of event. Enjoy the return to normality and as for twitching Twite - a sign of the times and the current status of this smart little finch in Kent. Dyl

  3. I looked at our rain data for the year and we came out right on average. But the distribution of the rain throughout the year was vastly different from historical patterns. I blame the extreme of it on the El Nino, which I am hoping will end this spring, otherwise we will be in for another rough and windy year.

  4. Interesting comparison of wet days Derek.

    I have never seen a hooded crow in this country - hundreds of them in Russia but not a single one here. Rather majestic bird.

  5. Certainly will do Steve.

    Dylan, the four guys had two Springer Spaniels with them but if a winged bird drops into a rill way out on the saltings it can sometimes run for some way along one, or hide up under vegetation. So despite having very good dogs with them it isn't always straightforward but they did eventually find the duck so nothing was lost. The Kent Wildfowler members that shoot those saltings are very sensible and well behaved guys and I get on OK with them.
    Wilma, so far here in Kent, unlike the north of the country, our rainfall this winter has been a tad below average.

    Hooded Crows are very much the resident crow of Scotland but most winters one or two work their way south for a couple of months.