Friday, 21 August 2009

Oare Marshes - A day alone!

Last weekend I decided that I needed some time to myself and headed to one of my favourite locations, Oare Marshes, on the north Kent coast. When I started out on the two hour drive the weather looked promising but the closer I got to my destination the clouds thickened and there was the hint of rain in the air (not going to be good for taking pics!). This long distance view over the fields showed a lot of activity on The Swale with many sailing vessels on the water and explained why there was no space in the very small car park. A view of the East Flood taken from the car before I located the last available roadside space to park the car. This is the place to view waders resting around the shallow pool and on the low islands at high tide.
Most of the waders, Black-tailed Godwits (too many to count), Redshanks, Golden Plovers and Lapwings had decided on this day to stay well away from the road and the poor light made it difficult to get any decent pics. However there was one Ruff feeding fairly close by.
Then a single Lapwing walked past.
It then flew up into the air uttering it's unmistakable 'peewit...peewit' call as it joined its friends.
The Golden Plovers showing their black bellies were all grouped together and I managed this record shot by digi-scoping.
My previous post shows the effect on the waders when the cows walked through the pool. During the mahem that ensued I saw 10 Avocet take flight but they failed to re-land on the flood. Other sightings included a single Greenshank, Cormorants, Grey Heron, Mute Swans, Greylag Goose, Mallard, Teal, Coot, Moorhen and Shovellers.
From the hide I carefully searched through the 100's of Black-tailed Godwits and eventually located a single Dunlin and then a Curlew Sandpiper (another first for 2009). In the far distance a Marsh Harrier was drifting over Mocketts Hill on the other side of The Swale. Leaving the hide my attention turned to a small flutter, a Skipper, that eventually stayed still long enough for this shot.
A moment later my peripheral vision caught sight of a blue shape perched on a post in a ditch near the path and as I turned around a Kingfisher took flight, obviously aware of my presence, and headed towards the sluice gates. A few moments later it returned and flashed past me in the opposite direction and disappeared. (One day I'll get a photo!) Below is the view up into Faversham Creek with the tide receding.
From the creek I looked back onto the flood pool and whilst battling the strong wind I located these few Black-tailed Godwits sleeping and feeding.
While also watching 2 Little Grebes constantly diving I just caught a hint of the sounds of Bearded Tits calling as they moved through the reeds but never showing themselves. This Black-headed Gull was searching the seaweed for a meal as the tide continued to turn exposing larger expanses of mud.
Using the scope I was able to locate a few Common Plovers, Oystercatchers and a single Whimbrel easily distinguished from a Curlew by its smaller size, striped head markings and its shorter decurved bill. A small group of young Pied Wagtails also moved past searching for flies.
Heading west towards Dan's Dock there were at least a dozen Little Egrets on the West Flood plus lots more Coot and then another distant Marsh Harrier floating over the reed bed. Single House Martin and Swallow flew westwards. Various 'flutters' (Painted Lady, Gatekeeper & Common Blue) appeared and disappeared, blown about by the strengthening wind. My attention then turned to these other residents. First a male Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) and then....
this female Common Darter perched on the pathway just long enough for a few quick shots.
A few minutes later I took this pic and the realised that it was a Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum), distinguished from a Common Darter by the lack of pale panel markings on the thorax, the noticeable constriction of the abdomen around S4 plus two black marks on S8 & S9.
This is the view towards Uplees Copse from Dans Dock with the sound of a Skylark somewhere in the sky above me.

One day I will walk the full circuit but on this occasion I decided to return to the car and head home after a very enjoyable and productive few hours in the company of wildlife that keeps me sane. FAB


  1. Nice post, interesting view of the fencing at the end. Like that photo too.

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  2. Hi Frank,

    Seems you had a productive and enjoyable day in spite of the inauspicious start. The first photo of the lapwing is lovely and kind of funny too. It looks as though it could be looking up or down, sort of like Linda Blair when she was the kid in The Exorcist and spun her head clear around. Sorry, off the point here -- great photos and a great walk with which to end the week.


  3. How disappointing to plan a special day out only to find the weather lets you down! However you certainly made the most of it and your descriptive account and lovely photos gave a good 'flavour' of the place. I think the rather bleak weather gave a wonderful moodiness to some of the photos. I hope the solitude was beneficial Frank and that things work out for you soon, things can only get better.

  4. Two hours...what a drive..but it looks like you found some really neat finds and you definitely captured some really nice shots...that lapwing is quite an interesting bird. I don't know much about dragonflies.but always love those clear wings and the patterns they show...great fence composition...I can see why this is one of your favorite places to visit.
    Glad you had the time..hope it picks up your spirits!! :)

  5. Some nice photos, I had a good morning there today as well as last Sunday am. Phil

  6. Despite the weather Frank, looks as though you had a cracking day. Golden Plovers and Ruff; not jealous at all lol
    Quite a list of sightings mate, especially all those waders.

  7. Very nice series of photos. The weather doesn't always cooperate does it? I like the last photo too with the fencing in it...very interesting shot.

  8. Doesn't matter what the weather is like, just being out is good for the soul. Good pics today mate.

  9. Wow what a tour you did for yourself... Good and quite rewarding I guess. It is sometime good to enjoy yourself in such a way!

  10. Well despite the poor light conditions you completed a good list of sightings and had time to yourself Frank.

  11. Some very nice photos, I love the last one, reminds me of the farm I grew up on. Nothing like haveing time for yourself. Take care.

  12. It keeps me sane too, Frank, and I love being out in the field alone (which is usually the case). You had a very productive day. Enjoyed seeing all the different birds. A two-hour trip is quite a commitment. Glad the rain held off. You definitely have had a lot of rain.

  13. Morning Frank!!

    I really enjoyed your post all your pictures are fabulous. I think my fav is the Golden Plovers...I just like the look of the shot.
    Hope your having a Fabulous Sunday

  14. Even distant views of all those shorebirds would be great! Migrating shorebirds will be returning to Australia from now on. My favorite time of year!!

  15. Hi Frank,thank you for your good advice and kind words regarding our PC.We are now back in circulation.Love your Golden Plover shots.
    Once again Ta.

  16. Hi "Early Birders".
    Sorry for the delay in responding to all your kind comments but I have been 'out of sorts' lately and now forced to take a few days 'R&R' away from work to recover. Just a pity the weather forecast is not brilliant but hoping to get out in the fresh air in the next few days.
    Once again, thanks for keeping in touch. FAB


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