Twenty-four SLB members went to Kent for this years “weekend away” by coach and our first stop was Elmley Marsh National Nature Reserve on the Isle of Sheppey. This is an extensive area of freshwater grazing marsh and no sooner had we turned on to the access track we were seeing abundant water birds, Lapwing and Marsh Harriers. A mile or so further on was the car park where we were met by a volunteer warden who gave us an introduction to the site and the work there. The weather was overcast and a little cool and the site flat so walking was pleasant. This was made even more so by our first good sighting, a singing Corn Bunting on a nearby fence post that
continued to perform so all the group had fine views. Yellow Wagtail were soon added as well as numerous Marsh Harriers. It was good to see so many breeding Lapwing and Avocet as well as Redshank, Little Egret and plenty of duck. The first hide was another mile further on and a welcome resting stop for lunch but not before some of the group had ventured a little further to see distant Cattle Egrets – a new species for SLB. Other notables were a Ringed Plover, Hobby, Curlew and a Cuckoo back at the car park. Total of 58 species on the day.
Weather was quite warm if a little overcast as we started our short journey to
Dungeness stopping first at the lighthouse. We headed towards the sea and had views of Gannet and Sandwich Tern flying by and on returning to the coach we had notable fine views of Stonechat and Linnet. Next stop was RSPB Dungeness where we took the 2 mile main trail. Highlights of our walk included a couple of Hobbies hawking overhead, hearing a booming Bittern and we also had views of both male and female Bearded Reedlings flying over the reeds, all whilst listening to a distant Cuckoo.
There was also a good selection of waders including Greenshank, Turnstone, Dunlin,
Common Sandpiper, and both Ringed and Grey Plover. Notable others were Pintail and Whimbrel. Last stop was the nearby Hanson Trail where most of the group were fortunate to see a Bittern flying over. Total of 79 species for the day.
Another new site for the club today when we visited Sevenoaks Wildlife Trust reserve Kent We were kindly given a two hour guided tour by the warden of 11 years Susanna who showed us the main areas and hides and gave us a good history and background of the reserve. It had been a working sand & gravel quarry but was now a SSSI site. As we walked through the trees warblers were very evident with Garden Warbler and Blackcap competing in the song stakes with Chiffchaff and Common
Whitethroat also heard.
A pair of Little Ringed Plover were on one of the many man made scrapes and it was hoped they would breed successfully this year after a failure last year. In the afternoon we were left to explore the reserve ourselves and so we took in the west lake circular route and several hides we had missed in the morning. Total of 52 species for the day bringing the total for the weekend after the journey home birds were added in to 98.