Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Another typical autumn in Kent !!

As is often the case in Kent, September and October are dominated by South- westerly winds, but as a special treat for 2008 we had some Easterlies......hoorahh. The only trouble being I was still in Cornwall and due back at work on the Monday!! The brisk drive home from Rame on the Saturday to the birdless playground complete with BMX bikes and burger van 'that is Swalecliffe' was extremely un productive as the Fan tailed warbler decided it did not want me to tick it and promptly flew whilst I was roughly passing Stonehenge!! I did manage to see a Sedge Warbler and Whinchat though plus the gathered post twitch crowd, all six of us worked the slopes from Tankerton back to Swalecliffe but the bird was no more. The Sunday found me missing Honey Buzzards as they appeared to outnumber Buzzards and passed overhead, though the Paws in the Park Dog show at Paddock Wood was ample compensation for missing a second for Kent and numerous HBs! With the easterlies continuing and the East coast up North awash with rares JT and myself ventured into that dark and distant corner of Kent. Certainly by the end of the day it was either a case of jumping off the cliffs at North Foreland as above or moving to east coast to be nearer to the action. If there was a PGTips that had flown onto the clifftop grass as above, would you jump though?

Despite a full days birding Reculver and North Foreland, the best we could muster was good counts of Redstart, Whinchat, Wheatear and Buzzards plus bird of the day, Yellow-browed Warbler in the trees at Reculver caravan park. Evidently we may have to change our tactics at Foreness in order to find rare birds, maybe the above mode of transport is the answer to locate those low to the ground skulking rares that lurk in these parts. (what a good way to bird Elmwood Avenue) The Saganauts were out in force and the Saga Hound, but sadly no rare Shrikes or mega rare Warblers or Flycatchers in these here parts.
It had a been a long day and the Whinchat pretty much sums of the autumn in Kent so far if weekends are the only time to get out, though I did manage to see an Osprey at Stoke Saltings, a Wryneck over in Essex at Rainham RSPB, such a great reserve.
Another trip out to East Kent saw us watching this superb Red backed Shrike in the allotments adjacent to Margate cmy. Steve Tomlinson has watched this area for many years and turned up some good birds, as cemetries and allotments often do. To keep track of the recent sightings see A typically autumn bird in Kent, but it would be better if we had a good steady trickle of rare birds to see in Kent as with the NE or Shetlands. Foreness and East Kent are clearly under watched and there is plenty of good habitat to check, though easterlies in Kent are often very hit and miss hence the absence of rares. Historically if you look at the rarities recorded at Foreness/Margate the list is endless, with Isabelline, Woodchat, Great Grey and Red-backed Shrike, Booted Warbler (2), Aquatic Warbler, Radde's Warblers, Pallas's, Yellow browed and Dusky Warblers. Rustic Bunting, Pied Wheatear, Trumpeter Finch, Red-throated Pipit, Alpine Swifts, the list goes on.........
Could this autumn in Kent get any better?
Will the birds 'only' appear mid week and fly before the weekend?


John Young said...

Hi Barry, I tend to think that Kent in general is very underwatched. I for one don't get around as much as I used to and on the rare occassions that I find myself out birding I tend to be the only birder in the area.

Barry said...

Hi John
Kent is DEFINETLY underwatched, the days of 6-10+ birders bashing Reculver every weekend are gone, though the locals do an excellent job and still find some mega birds. It still remains one of my favourite haunts, but so much of East Kent is virtually untouched, just waiting to be worked.