I usually try to avoid visiting at weekends as it is a very popular family and dog-walking venue. Still, we were there to visit the craft market held here annually, so it was a Sunday visit this time for Sue and myself. It was very busy. After looking around the stalls, we made our way to Gooders hide, to have our lunch and do some birdwatching.
The pool in front of the hide contained many species of waders including a large number of Oystercatchers, redshank, Curlew and Lapwing plus a few ducks. But perhaps the most striking sighting was the large number of Golden Plover (perhaps a couple of thousand) which regularly took to the air and circled and danced through the air like a murmuration of starlings, alternately showing their dark backs and pale undersides, which made them seem to sparkle in the winter sun.
The sun was shining and there were some amazing cloud formations to be seen.
After lunch, we walked down to the mouth of the River, but only added a flock of 30 Ringed Plover and a few Meadow Pipits to our list.
Retracing our steps back past the visitor centre we decided to drive home via Port Lympne to see if we could see the Sabines Gull that had taken up residence in the Wildlife Park car park. Well, it couldn’t have been easier as we drove in the bird was walking along the grass at the edge of the road! It couldn’t have been closer. Sadly I had forgotten to put the camera in the car and so could get no photos! In my excitement, I completely forgot about using my mobile phone camera I had been using earlier. We parked up and I walked back and got some excellent views. This is a new species for me as I have always managed to miss the occasional birds which turn up in the UK. This species breeds in the high Arctic of North America and winters off the coast of SW Africa and so is only seen occasionally as a fly-by on the coast during migration.
The juvenile Sabines Gull is not very spectacular until you see it fly.
Then it was time to head for home but a good day out with a brilliant end.