Minnis Bay – Reculver Field Trip

Only two of us ventured out today and it was a tale of two halves. In the morning the weather could have not been better, clear blue skies and a gentle breeze made the 3½ mile walk to Reculver seem easy and enjoyable. There was much repair work being done to the sea-walls near Minnis Bay after recent high tides, followed by prolonged periods of rain, had helped dislodge many of the coastal defences.

On the way to Reculver birds were mainly seen in the reeds, inland from the coastal path, and they included a number male and female stonechats and reed buntings and, after examining photos at home, a pair of linnets posing on the brambles but the male was slightly tucked away making it difficult to identify. We were however please to first hear then see a Cetti’s warbler but it was too difficult to get a decent photo although seeing one was a privilege since they are so noisy but difficult to view. Despite the danger of being run over by the countless cyclists out enjoying the weather little egrets (one in a tree with a carrion crow) and redshanks were about and three turnstones on the shoreline doing what they do best i.e. turning stones. Large number of Brent geese, estimated between 800 – 1000, were in the fields as the tide approached its zenith.

We stopped for lunch by the café at Reculver surrounded by house sparrows who had no hesitation in landing on one’s hand and taking our meagre offerings of bread whilst being watched by a very large herring gull. We were not sure whether it was eyeing up our bread or, perhaps, the sparrows? Mind you the herring gull appeared small in comparison to the few great black-backed gulls seen on the water.

The forecast was spot on and the skies lost their majestic light blue-colour, replaced by grey and darker-grey skies and then the rain came. Then, what was, seemingly, an empty shingle beach became covered in lots and lots of turnstones and oyster catchers with a number of curlews, ringed plovers, redshanks, grey plovers and dunlins – all sheltering whilst awaiting easy pickings as the tide began to turn. Sadly, there were no sightings of any snow buntings or sanderlings, which have been seen here at this time of year over the past decade. With the rain coming down and the breeze picking up the cyclists disappeared into the mist as one might put it and the few people about were mainly dog walkers.

In all we saw just over 20 species but these included large gatherings of oyster catchers, turnstones and brent geese flying close by. A big thank you to Jeremy for making the effort and what was an enjoyable day.

Steve Clarke – Field Trip Leader