If anyone is wondering why I haven't been blogging recently, well the reason is I haven't been too good since my last outings on 19th & 20th June.
This is my first outing since then. I went with my friend Ian who was kind enough to ask me if I wanted to take a trip to Oare Marsh Reserve, I was only too happy to accept.
We arrived at about 11.30am and parked up in the lay by half way down the road. The weather wasn't too bad actually, it was breezy but it then settled down, to a still dry afternoon and no rain.
The first birds that caught out eye was the Black Tailed Godwits, there must have been about 100-150, probably more, and most of them was in breeding plumage, when you see that many birds together showing their black and gold flecked backs and orange-roufous underneath which goes as far as their belly is quite a sight. I would say that they are the ones from Iceland because their colouration is deeper in colour that the ones from Europe, plus the European birds colouration stops around the breast area.
Bar Tailed Godwits are very similar in breeding plumage except their underneath colours reach almost as far as their under tail coverts. Mixed in with them as a good number of Redshanks, many of those in breeding plumage too.
I heard that there was a Ruff around so that is what we scanned around for, which didn't take long. We noticed that it had colour rings, along with a blue flag on it's upper left leg. Apparently this bird is a Spanish bird or ringed in Spain which has been coming here for the past 5 years.
It was looking really good, it had a black and gold speckled back, along with a Cream head, nape and throat, in fact it couldn't have been long out of breeding plumage. We then found another one on the large centre island, similar colours but more faded.
I have seen a ruff in full breeding plumage 8 years ago at Elmley RSPB Reserve, It was what is known as a satellite bird, and they have white ruffs.
The other birds seen was Avocets feeding non stop, a Gadwall with 8 youngsters, a Pochard with 6 young, 3 Shovelers, 4 Cormorant, 3 Tufted Duck resting on a island, Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, 5 Mute Swan, 3 Little Egret, 3 Grey Heron, B/H/Gull, Herring Gull, a handful of Swifts and Swallows, a small number of Lapwing and Oystercatcher, Starlings, Sedge Warblers was calling non stop, A Peregrine Falcon was up on the pylon where it is normally seen.
Turning around to check out the area to the west, not really worth it for birds on the ground, due to the high grass/reeds etc.There was a couple of Skylarks calling, and a few Linnets flitting about. There was better birds in the air. A male Marsh Harrier was quartering the area in the distance, A Kestrel was circling around, and high in the sky was a Common Buzzard soaring. 2 Green Woodpeckers, 1 on a telegraph pole,
Other birds seen and heard was a male Cuckoo, Wood Pigeon, C/Crow. Greylag Geese(3),Pheasant, Magpie, Blackbird.
We didn't go to check out the Swale we made our way to the East Hide. No sooner had we parked up when a Cetti's Warbler started calling. Whenever I go there one is always calling from one of the bushes close by.
Once in the hide and settled on one the 3 benches, there use to be 4 but it seams as if someone had nicked one, WOOD you believe it? What did they do walk down the track with bench under their arm!
As we was checking out the same area but from a different angle I wasn't expecting to see many birds that I haven't already seen. There was a few, Pied Wagtail, 14 Greylag Geese, 2 Reed Buntings, 2 Greenshanks dropped in, along with 2 Common Terns.
Then later 2 events happened which kept us glued to see what the outcome would be. The 1st was a female Marsh Harrier flew in low over the flood putting all the birds up when it dropped with legged stretched out thus clasping a large Marsh Frog in it's talons. It headed off to find somewhere to feed , but it was then mobbed by 3 Carrion Crows, they just came out of nowhere and as usual looking for a meal, the Marsh Harrier was turning in all directions to try to lose them, and all the time this was going on the poor ol frog was getting shook from side, with it's long legs hanging down flapping around. Eventually the crows gave up, the Harrier landed and ate it's meal.
We thought that was going to be the highlight of the day but we was to be treated to another, although I don't know if treated is the right word to use. Whilst viewing over the flood watching one of the Grey Herons looking very intensely for a meal, big or small it suddenly stood stationary in the shallows, both Ian and I watched it, when all of a sudden like a dart it's bill entered the water in which we thought it might have caught a big fish, how wrong was we, it turned out to be a very large eel, although technically it was a large fish, but even so it was quite a sight, watching the eel wrap itself around the bill of the heron time after time, the eel was trying to get away, the heron was trying to swallow it. This battle went on for just over 5 minutes. At one point the eel nearly got away, but it was not to be, while it was wrapped around the bill, the heron slowly bit by bit began to swallow it. Before it finally disappeared we could still see the eels tail end wriggling. At this stage I found myself feeling sorry for the frog and the eel.
Well the time was now getting on so we called it a day, but as we was about to leave I caught sight of something that I have never seen before and as it happens I read about one on Greenies blog Just a few days ago, it was a Six Belted Clearwing.
** As reminded by Phil of http://www.sharpbynature.blogspot.co.uk/ I forgot to seleck my Bird Of The Day. So my choice is the <<< Grey Heron>> For putting on a good show.**
* Before I list my days sightings I saw one of our beautiful sailing barges leaving Faversham Quay heading out into open water. The barge in question is The Cambria, built in 1906, and having restoration work carried out in Faversham. She is part of Rotary Internation.*
Below is my sightings for the day.
Black Tailed Godwit