January 1st 2008, daylight has broken, the fireworks have ceased to be and it's a brand new year to start seeing birds. As with past years I often end up visiting a few sites around North Kent seeing 'New birds' for the year and checking through the wintering flocks of Ducks, Geese and Gulls. Today was no different with a short drive to Chatham Maritime and a cursory look at the marina which was virtually a bird free zone! A short drive up the road to Copperhouse and plenty to look at with Grey plover, Curlew, Dunlin, a few Brent Geese and a small group of Knot. At Motney Hill a delightful sewage farm on the Medway Estuary accessed from Motney Hill Road just east of Riverside Country Park, a scan of the area revealed a calling Chiffchaff in the roadside scrub, a Cetti's warbler in song, and a Water rail 'squealing' in the reeds to the east of the road.
Next port of call, one of my favourite localities in North Kent, Lower Halstow. Parking in one of the side roads, such as Heron Close accessible from Lapwing Drive, you can walk to the edge of the estuary with fantastic views across towards the Isle of Grain. This has been a regular locality for a wintering Whimbrel but the tide was incredibly low today and I couldn't locate it. Seven Goldeneye were some compensation plus a showy Rock Pipit feeding on the foreshore.
Funton Creek was quite productive with a Siskin that put in a brief appearance next to the road, hundreds of Pintail, a pair of Stonechat and a Peregrine.
With the day list rapidly building I opted for Sheppey and visited Capel Fleet that is accessed off the Harty ferry road. The Rough-legged Buzzard was distant but along with 4 Buzzards, a Merlin sitting in a tree, a Peregrine, several Hen Harrier ringtails and stacks of Marsh Harrier made for a pleasant 30 minutes or so. A quick look on the Swale behind Harty Church revealed a distant Bewicks' Swan and a Red-breasted Merg whilst Golden Plover must have numbered 1000's.
A brisk walk up towards Elliotts Farm allowed me to locate 20 or so White-fronted Geese and the wintering Hooded Crow, whilst another Chiffchaff called in nearby bushes.
The days events ended at about 3pm with 94 species for my efforts on a superb day in a great setting.