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Tuesday 21 October 2014

Hoo Peninsula and Coryton

Hoo was up first on the Sunday, both myself and Paul were looking forward to returning to last winter’s haunts with this being the first visit of the 2nd winter period.

With a very strong south westerly wind, expectations were not that high for smaller species and being so mild, and still early in the year, we were not expecting high numbers yet of any Waders or Wildfowl.

Dawn coming up with hundreds of Rooks leaving the Northward Hill Roost

As ever the site never disappoints for Raptors and on starting my transect I immediately had 3 Marsh Harriers interacting over towards the Sea Wall.Allthough a bit distant, checking them all showed slightly darker plumage and perfect feathering so looked good for this year’s juveniles, great to see them doing so well.

One day hopefully the fortunes of Hen Harrier can be reversed and it can become established like the Marsh Harrier, the illegal persecution of the Hen Harrier on Grouse Moor’s has got to stop, otherwise there never going to recover.

Many years ago I can remember seeing up to 8 wintering at Rainham Marshes, sadly a very rare sight these days.

Moving on and covering the sea wall heading down to Paul’s section, just over a mile away, Paul rang to say he had a Great Grey Shrike, an excellent find. It was on my route so I eventually came to it, as ever stunning looking birds and a real pleasure to see one.

A little stunner

A good survey, as I have said before it is a very wild unspoilt site, probably under watched as it is so far out and has always produced good birds; during my survey I had seen the following.

Wheatears - 4
Short Eared Owl – 1st one this winter
Rock Pipits - 2
Marsh Harrier – at least 5 birds
Merlin – female chasing a Pied Wagtail along the sea wall with a Kestrel chasing it as well.
Common Scoter - 2
Green Sandpiper – 3 together

A good start to the winter surveys which then got even better as we walked off the site, 2 Lapland Buntings flew right in front of us and were last seen heading towards Cliffe.

An excellent day.

Clouded Yellow


Monday morning it was the turn of the Essex side, I was covering my usual patch Coryton, again very windy so not expecting much on the passerine front.

After finding 3 Ring Ouzel’s on the 14th I was not hopeful, given the wind, of catching up with any others but have to say pleasantly surprised to see another on the survey. Along with another birder we watched it briefly, even managed to get some distant photos.

Distant Ring Ouzel

For the first time I didn’t pick up any Corn Buntings but suspect that was down to the wind, very little was airborne, the only highlights were a single Marsh Harrier, 10 Black Tailed Godwits and 3 Stonechat together.

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