Posts Tagged ‘Abbots Court’

Sue and I trip down to see Keith on his home patch for a few hours birdwatching. Our first stop was the RSPB reserve at Northwood Hill in search of Nightingales and Cuckoos.

Both species are vocal when they first arrive in this country but soon fall silent, in the case of Nightingales, or depart after laying there eggs. so its important if you are going to locate them to do so early on. Both birds were in fine voice with at least 5 different Nightingales, and 2 cuckoos on the path down to the viewpoint. There were also a number of Blackcaps and a Chiffchaff.

Nightingale singing at Northwood Hill

Arriving at the viewpoint we had lunch looking over the marshes. Whilst having lunch we had a variety of birds singing from the surrounding vegetation including Nightingale, Common Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat and Blackcap

After lunch we traced our way back to the car, serenaded again by Nightingales. The sun had come out and so had some early butterflies including Red Admiral, Peacock, Orange Tip and most surprisingly, a Painted Lady.

Blackcap (m). Photo by Keith

Our second stop was Keith’s local patch at Abbotts Court. A party of Swallows with one House Martin were over the lakes together with Blackcaps and another Cuckoo, which flew over our heads. A Reed Warbler was also heard.

In all we saw 40 species in a few hours and caught up with some of the recently arrived summer visitors.

A chance to get out of London and travel down to Chatham to look for the Great Northern Diver which is wintering in the docks (I failed to see it on my trip last month). After meeting Keith at the station we walked down through the town to the riverside where we got great views of Rochester Cathedral and Castle.

Rochester Cathedral and Castle

Rochester Cathedral and Castle

There was a lot of mud as the tide was well out but aside from Black-headed Gulls and a few Mallard, the only bird of note was a single Common Redshank.

Common Redshank

Common Redshank

We continued along the riverside paths to the dock basin.

Chatham Dock Basin

Chatham Dock Basin

We scanned for the diver but it was nowhere to be seen. After a hour we went off to get some lunch and when we returned there was a European Shag on a bouy in the basin. This smaller version of a cormorant is a species not often recorded in SE UK so it was a good opportunity to see and photograph it.

European Shag

European Shag

There was still no sign of the diver (In fact as I sit and write this on Thursday morning – I have seen no reports of it being seen since Monday afternoon – perhaps it has finally moved on?). Mid-afternoon we decided to finish the day on Keith s home patch as Abbots Court near Hoo, A mixture of lakes, marsh and pasture on the edge of the River Medway, this is a lovely site which has lots of different habitats. We were greeted on arrival by a large flock of House Sparrows, once a common garden bird all over the UK, their numbers have plummeted in the last decade and in many places they are now rare – I have had one garden record in 12 years! When I was growing up we often had flocks of over 30 birds in the garden.

Abbot's Court

Abbot’s Court

 

House Sparrow

House Sparrow

As we walked towards the River, a Common Kestrel flashed by and a group of Meadow Pipit flew overhead. Arriving at the river there was a good selection of waders and other waterbirds on the mudflats (the tide was a long way out so views were distant). A Little Egret probed in the muddy pools looking for food and we flushed some Common Snipe from the saltmarsh.

Saltmarsh at abbot's Court

Saltmarsh at Abbot’s Court

 

Little Egret

Little Egret

In the distance we could see a flock of 500-600 Brent Geese as the travelled from their feeding grounds to the estuary and back. An amazing sight and a wonderful sound.

The sun was setting and what had been a wonderfully bright and warm January afternoon became much colder as we headed back in land.

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Brant Goose [sp] (Branta bernicla)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
European Shag [sp] (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Common Snipe [sp] (Gallinago gallinago)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Redwing [sp] (Turdus iliacus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)