Posts Tagged ‘Hoo’

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A Day of uncertain weather forecasts saw me visiting Keith on his home patch along the River Medway in Kent.

Starting at Abbots Court the lakes were rather sparsely populated, but we were soon welcomed by a close flying Sparrowhawk, which having sized up flew off to look for more manageable prey. This was to prove the only highlight as we walked down to the estuary as the horse fields were empty (apart from the Horses). There were a number of Migrant Hawker Dragonflies and a single Common Darter.

Migrant Hawker (left and top right) and Common Darter (bottom right). Photos by Keith

Large numbers of Small White Butterflies were present along with Meadow Brown, Small Heath and Common Blue, but the best sighting was a single Small Copper.

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Small Copper. Photo By Keith

The tide was high as we turned north along the estuary towards Kingsnorth. A Thames Barge was moving up river towards Chatham and was seen later moored mid-channel.

There were large numbers of Greylag Geese on the fields and a small party of Canada Geese were seen flying away. Ahead we could see a Common Kestrel hunting over the fields.

It started raining but the showers soon passed over and we found this feather illustrating it’s waterproof qualities

Turning South we headed towards Hoo Marina. I spotted a bird that we flushed from the path but annoyingly it kept heading back into the path side vegetation before we could get a good look. This must have happened 4 or 5 times but each time we saw a little more and concluded it was a juvenile Yellow Wagtail. This was the only migrant passerine we were to see on the whole walk. On the waters edge were some little Egrets and Gulls, mostly Black-headed. One Black-tailed Godwit in flight plus a couple of Northern Lapwing were the only wading birds we encountered.

As we approached Hoo Marina we passed the boat graveyard. Many of these boats have been here for many years and some have become part of the landscape.

After Lunch at the Marina, we walked into Hoo village visiting the church and a small stream, but all we added was Stock Dove before we adjourned to Keith’s garden for refreshments

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Rock Dove (Feral) (Columba livia ‘feral’)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Western Yellow Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla flava)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Chloris chloris)
Common Linnet [sp] (Linaria cannabina)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Green-veined White [sp] (Artogeia napi)
Small Copper [sp] (Lycaena phlaeas)
Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina)
Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus)

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)

White-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus Lucorum)

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It has always puzzled me that it is illegal to dump a car on the road but no such law exists about dumping boats and so on many of our estuaries we find graveyards where old, damaged and unwanted posts are driven onto the mudflats and left to rot.

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On our Hoo walk last week we came across just such a graveyard with boats in all states of decay.

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I guess there is one point where the boats, at least if they are wood, differ from a car, they do rot and over time become part of the environment.

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A combination of work and medical issues have restricted my trips out recently so it was great to get an opportunity, even though it wasn’t the most promising of days. to visit Keith and his local patch at Hoo in North Kent.

Greylag Geese

Greylag Geese

It rained heavily before I got to our meeting place, but as we arrived at Abbot’s court it had stopped and we were hopeful for a good day’s birdwatching. We began to walk towards the sea-wall but within a half-mile, the rain returned and we found shelter under some trees.

The view from our shelter

The view from our shelter

Male and female Cuckoo could be heard calling towards the old power station through the rain and Swallows and House Martin fed low over our heads driven low by the clouds and rain. On a pool a single Avocet was found and we had distant views of a Little Egret. There was, however, no let up in the rain and after 30 minutes we received a phone call from Elaine, Keith’s wife, who offered to come and pick us up in the car. We opted to be dropped at the diner at Hoo marina, where we could get some lunch and see if the weather would improve. An hour later the rain had stopped and we decided to retrace our intended route in the opposite direction back to Abbot’s Court – at first all seemed well and we saw Oystercatcher, Sparrowhawk and Linnet amongst other species.

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Mute Swan

Mute Swan

About half-way the rain returned and this time there was no shelter and no alternative so we had to carry on. By the time we arrived at Abbot’s Court and Elaine once again picked us up in the car we were both soaked. Retiring for a cup of tea and a change of clothes before I began my journey back to London was a welcome break. Typically as we left Hoo to go back to the railway station at Strood the weather cleared up and the rain stopped!

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On review, not a bad days list considering the conditions and the time of year. Thanks to Keith for his company and to Elaine for ferrying us around.

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Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Cuckoo [sp] (Cuculus canorus)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Goldcrest [sp] (Regulus regulus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)

Sunset at Hoo

Posted: January 22, 2016 in Landscape, Natural History
Tags: ,

Some pictures of the wonderful sunset at Hoo on Tuesday evening

 

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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)

Went down to the Medway estuary in North Kent to spend a day bird-watching with my friend Keith. The weather forecast was not brilliant but as we started it was a bright if blowy morning. Our first stop was the Riverside Country Park in Gillingham, which is on the southside of the estuary. This walk overlooks a number of marshes and has two prominentaries (Horrid Hill and Motney Hill) which stick out into the estuary.

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We were suprised at the number of Brent Geese that were still here. This winter visitor has normally flown north to its breeding grounds by now. Also present were Shelduck, Oystercatcher and a single Curlew. At Horrid Hill we flushed a Cuckoo which had been resting on the shoreline. Near Motney Hill we heard and then briefly saw a Lesser Whitethroat and I saw my first Swifts of the year.

Shellduck

Shellduck

There were a good numbers of Butterflies present including Peacock, Red Admiral, Green-viewed White, Small white and Orange Tip.

Small white

Small white

Orange Tip

Orange Tip

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In the late afternoon, we moved over to the Northern side of the estuary to Abbotts Court at Hoo. The weather had improved throughout the day and now it was quite warm if you were out of the strong wind. Abbotts Court is an area of wet meadow and fields situated behind the river bank.

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A number of Yellow wagtails were flying around but we didnt manage to find one on the ground. A Little egret flew from the meadow towards the river and a Meditteranian Gull flew overhead. A second Cuckoo was seen and heard and a second Lesser Whitethroat was located in the undergrowth. 2 Northern Wheatears were on the meadows and gave good if distant views. More Brent Geese were on the mudflats.

Brent Goose

Brent Goose

Thanks to Keith and Elaine, his wife, for their hospitality and company. A really enjoyable day.

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Brent Goose [sp] (Branta bernicla)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Cuckoo [sp] (Cuculus canorus)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Lesser Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia curruca)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Northern Wheatear [sp] (Oenanthe oenanthe)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Yellow Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla flava)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)

Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Green-veined White [sp] (Artogeia napi)
Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines)
Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)