I have not been out birding for quite a few weeks now, I did intend to go to the river during the snowy weather but I decided not to as it was very slippery here, I was told by one of the locals that the cemetery bridge over the bypass was dangerous for someone like me.
Up until going out today I have been garden watching, struggling to keep up with feeding them. I have had a few good birds feeding in the garden. Apart from the usual Collared Doves(when the weather was at it's worse I counted 17 on the feeders), Gold, Green and Chaffinches, Dunnocks, Starlings, Blue Tits and Great Tits, there was 2 Robins having a dispute, sizing each other up, 2 Jays are still coming in nearly all day taking the whole peanuts, sometimes 3 turn up which was wonderful. The Jays have been regular visitors now for about 2 months.
Other species that are staying to feed throughout the daylight hours are Blackcaps( 2 males, 1 female) feeding on the hanging log with a mixture of fat and meal worms in it that is located about 8 feet from the kitchen window behind a bush about 2 feet from the ground.There has also been a male Blackbird feeding from it it has worked out that it can jump up flapping its wings with a very quick hover I suppose I would call it, it isn't just a jump and prod, then while in the air thrusting it's bill into a hole with food in it. My daily count of Blackbirds is between 6 and 8 feeding on the apples on my home made apple tree, and the dropped ones.
The other species visiting are: 1 Brambling(f), 1 female Reed Bunting, male and female G/S/Woodpeckers, 1 Pied Wagtail occasionally, and nearly every day in the afternoon I am getting a party of about 10-14 Long Tailed Tits. On one occasion Pam and I saw 9 on the fat ball feeder and 4 next door on the nut feeder. When the snow had started to melt I had 1 Black Headed Gull drop in to steal a apple. I am having to make more visits to Pinions at the moment for food but I don't mind because I love my birds.
On to today. I had no intention of staying out for long, I just wanted to go to see if I could find the ...no not the 7 Common Cranes, the White Fronted Geese. Seeing the Cranes was going to be a bonus as I have never seen that many before in Kent. The only place I have seen larger numbers is in Norfolk near Hickling Broads where one year along with a few other birders I saw 11.
I did see 3 Whites in with a large gaggle of Greylag Geese at the far end of Capel Fleet.
From here it was down to the viewing mound where the 7 Common Cranes was showing very well in the sunshine. There was as usual many Marsh Harriers doing their own thing, and 2 Grey Herons had decided to take in the suns rays by resting up on top of the large chalk mound that isn't far from the viewing ramp.
It was then off to visit the Swale from the lower Ferry House Inn car park to scan the river and marsh land to see what waders were about as I haven't seen many this year. There was 2 other birders there when I arrived and I was just in time to see a ringtail Hen Harrier quarter the marsh and put nearly all the waders up. If I hadn't come here I would not have seen the ringtail, so thank you to the 2 birders.
I was very impressed with the wader species I did see which was Dunlin, Black Tailed Godwit, Curlew, Avocet, Oystercatcher, Grey Plover, Golden Plover,and Redshank.
There was a few Shelduck grazing, a large flock of Wigeon on the water along with 2 G/C/Grebes, but the largest gathering of any one species was dark bellied Brent Geese. When I was putting my scope away Pam and I watched a very large skein of Brents came in from the east to join the others, it is always nice to hear large skeins of Geese calling. There was also 1 Common Seal on Horse Sands which was only just above the water line.
I had now seen the birds that I set out to see and a few more so I now called it a day. I still kept scanning all the way to the main road. At a certain point along the road on the right is a series of bushes where I have always seen Corn Buntings and today was no exception, we could see movement before we even got close to them. When we was virtually lever with them we pulled over and I had a count up of all the Corn Bunting that was showing. I counted about 43. I probably counted some of them twice but most of them stayed where they was. I wondered if there might have been a few Reed Buntings amongst them, but I found none in the ones I was seeing.
So, I had a short but very enjoyable trip out, lovely weather, seeing the birds that I hoped to see plus a few more.
None of us know what we might see when we go out into the countryside, sometimes go to see something that has been reported, hoping we don't dip out, other times we get there in time, that's what makes this hobby so enjoyable.