Friday, 8 April 2016

Oare Marshes

Grey Heron in Flight

Alternative Title: A long overdue write-up of a long overdue trip 

The Oare Marshes KWT reserve is a bit further afield than my usual haunts, but I fancied a change of scene and so I took advantage of a warm March day to pay my first visit. The walk from Faversham station is actually quite pleasant if you don't mind a bit of a trek, but it seems a lot of the visiting photographers/birders park along the road that runs through the middle of the reserve, get the required photos/ticks, and then drive off to the next location - sometimes without even leaving their cars! Such is the accelerated and competitive nature of modern life, but you'll forgive me if I prefer a more sedate approach.

Pintail (Anas acuta)

The reserve is quite contained; you can walk all the way around it a lot quicker than, say, the extended Grove Ferry/Stodmarsh circuit. I must have walked round it one-and-a-half times while I was there - perhaps more if you factor in the distance I covered trailing after the mixed flock of Goldfinches and Lesser Redpolls:

Lesser Redpolls (Carduelis cabaret)

For those who wish to give their feet a rest, there are three hides on the reserve. On the day I visited they were all in pretty good condition. They also happened to be completely empty, which is not entirely surprising given that a) there were no birds anywhere near them, and b) they were facing directly into the wind - which made for an eye-watering experience. Fortunately most of the highlight species could be seen quite easily from the viewing points along the road, including this uncharacteristically obliging Water Rail:

Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus)

I don't generally keep lists, but on this occasion I jotted down all the birds I'd seen and heard (written that same evening, from memory). I counted forty-one different species, which were - for those who are interested in such things - as follows: Avocet, Bearded Tit, Blackbird, Black-headed Gull, Black-tailed Godwit, Blue Tit, Canada Goose, Carrion Crow, Cetti's Warbler, Coot, Curlew, Dunnock, Goldfinch, Green Woodpecker, Grey Heron, Greylag Goose, Herring Gull, Lesser Redpoll, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh Harrier, Meadow Pipit, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Peregrine Falcon, Pintail, Redshank, Reed Bunting, Robin, Shelduck, Shoveler, Skylark, Snipe, Starling, Teal, Tufted Duck, Water Rail, and Wood Pigeon.

Not bad for a first visit, though having read subsequent reports it's possible that I may have walked past a Little Owl without spotting it. Sounds like a good excuse for a return trip...

See also:
More of my photos from Oare Marshes
Oare Marshes (Kent Wildlife Trust)
Oare Marshes Latest Sightings (KOS)