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Saturday, 26 October 2013

Hoo Peninsula

October 26th

As is our habit of last year, Paul and myself dropped into Cliffe RSPB at dawn pre- survey to have a look around, the weather was not great with a strong south westerly already taking a grip at 7.30am.This was to be the pattern for the day, it affected our survey later unfortunately with many species seeking cover, especially the small stuff.

Cliffe though did produce some good birds, it’s still very mild so we weren’t expecting hordes of winter migrants.
We gave it just over the hour with the highlights being 400 Black Tailed Godwit, 20 Golden Plover, Corn Bunting, 41 roosting Curlew, 3 Ruff, a couple of Cetti’s Warblers and 4 Marsh Harriers.
There seemed to be no small waders anywhere other than a flyover Snipe but none the less we saw some good if not distant birds, a good start.

Moving on we headed for the survey site, we made a start on our respective Transects and right from the start it was obvious that it was going to be quite on the exposed Farmland, Chaffinches though as per last week were still moving west.
Eventually I arrived at the river, the highlights from the walk were 2 Marsh Harriers and a Green Sandpiper, a sprinkle of Skylarks but that was about all.

The river, totally exposed to the south westerly wind seemed wader less at low tide other than Curlew.
The undoubted sight of the morning from the river watch goes to a female Merlin firstly mobbing an adult female Peregrine, both birds using the wind well but the Merlin giving the more bulky Peregrine agility lessons.
Following this about an hour later and presumably the same Merlin, Paul was able to see this as well, she went after a small Finch, very likely a Chaffinch, this was pursued high and low with gusto. Half way through a 2nd winter male Marsh Harrier joined in and tried to take the Chaffinch, the Merlin then forgot about the Chaffinch and mobbed the Harrier. It seemed  the Chaffinch escaped from both
there efforts glad to say.

Spectacular to say the least, too far, even for me with the new convertor for photos, as well as this the grey skies gave you little chance of photographing anything half decent throughout the survey, need some blue skies!

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