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Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Oare Marshes, 6th September 2017

I teamed up with Cory from the States for a short day's birding at Oare Marshes but one filled with several avian rewards! An ambulance was on call at one of the houses along the approach to the reserve so we parked up and watched the mixed Yellow and Pied Wagtail gathering in the fields for a bit; a Wheatear and a Lesser Whitethroat were in the same area. Once on the reserve, the first unexpected encounter involved a juvenile Cuckoo feeding on caterpillars in a dead tree on the grazing marsh - the first I've seen for some time - closely followed by the strange sight of a juvenile Hobby trekking low across the surface of The Swale. Two Greenshanks dived over onto the East Flood and good numbers of Grey Plovers were on the Sheppey side, along with three Marsh Harriers and a couple of Buzzards. A couple of Bearded Reedlings teased us with their calls from the reedbeds but remained unseen, as did a few Cetti's Warblers. A Peregrine buzzed the flood, repeatedly setting up the waders, and later on a juvenile Osprey gave good scope views as it circled to the west. It later took its turn at stirring panic among the waders as it cruised low over the East Flood, where highlights included nine Curlew Sandpipers (one adult and eight juveniles), the adult Long-billed Dowitcher and four Knot. Two Wigeon also put in an appearance.

Best of all, while Cory was back at the car, a curious call overhead alerted me to a Pectoral Sandpiper which circled the west side of the reserve twice before disappearing to the southeast! Hopefully Cory wasn't too gripped as he has seen loads in the States. Walking back to the car, conversation with a group of three other birds revealed that they had also clocked the Pec. This is the third I have found in Britain, following birds at Dungeness RSPB and Tice's Meadow over the last few years.