On a day as pleasant as today it is hard to stay indoors so I jumped into the car and headed to Oare Marshes where there are always lots of birds. Today turned out to be a one with huge numbers of waders resting and feeding on the East flood with well over 1000 Black-tailed Godwits and Dunlin, Common Redshank, Common Ringed Plover, Golden Plover and Northern Lapwing in the hundreds. However, perhaps the most notable sightings were numbers of Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint higher than I have ever seen in UK; at least 29 Little Stints and 25+ Curlew Sandpipers.One of the joys of Oare Marshes is the close views that can be had of most of the birds and there is always a wide variety of species. Today was a great day for wader enthusiasts and I ended up spending nearly 3 hours standing in the same spot picking out many different species including 30+ Red Knot, 60+ Pied Avocets, 2 Spotted Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 1 Common Snipe, 2 Little Ringed Plovers and, incredibly, a single Baird’s Sandpiper. This bird was feeding alongside a Little Stint, 2 Curlew sandpipers and 2 Dunlin and I saw it in excellent light making the differences quite obvious. There had been a Baird’s Sandpiper at nearby Reculver but it had disappeared this morning so it would seem like it was the same bird.
Another rarity, this time more expected as one bird has become a regular visitor, was a Bonaparte’s Gull. Usually this would be a mega but I have seen this bird at Oare repeatedly over the last 4 years!
Usually I enjoy walking along while birding but sometimes it is nice to vary my style of birding and by standing in one point for a long time I was able to build up quite a large list of species including a few Western Yellow Wagtails, a male Sparrowhawk, 2 Reed Warblers, 1 Bearded Reedling and a Garganey.
Eventually I did move along and walked a circuit of the reserve where there were large numbers of Common Redshank on the muddy edges of the Swale and some calling Whimbrel alerted me to their presence before they flew overhead.
Oare Marshes is just about the best place I know for seeing Bearded Reedling. It is not the location where they are most numerous but the habitat here is very good for actually seeing this secretive bird with small areas of reeds along open ditches and for much of the reserve birders walk along the flood defences, looking down on the reedy ditches, making seeing this species much easier than at most reedbeds. On my route around the reserve I heard many and saw a few more before I came across three Reed Buntings feeding on fallen grass seeds on the track.
As I finished my walk at Oare I heard a singing Cetti’s Warbler, another species that is tricky to see. If you have not visited Oare before I would recommend it. It is a particularly good place for people with mobility problems to visit as most of the birds can be seen from a viewing area next to the access road.