KOS November Outdoor Meeting
KOS Outdoor Meetings, Ray O’Reilly writes:
Today’s Field Trip started and finished with good birds around Car Parks, Shore Larks to begin with and a Short-eared Owl to finish. The weather was perfect for birding with some good light on Sheppey. We walked up the coast from Leysdown FC to Shellness and back. Several waders were enjoyed including 80+ Avocet, Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, Sanderling and Grey and Golden Plovers. A short seawatch gave us 16 Gannets in a variety of plumages, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers and 4 Red-throated Divers. A lone 1st CY Little Gull flying along the shoreline was somewhat unseasonal. Rock Pipit and Common/Harbour Seals were watched closely.
A lunch stop at Capel Fleet provided a small flock of Corn Buntings, Stonechats and a lovely ring-tailed Hen Harrier. The afternoon was spent at Elmley NR and 7 Cattle Egrets next to the entrance track was a good start. A Long-eared Owl was once again found roosting in the old orchard this time right out in the open. Raven and Peregrine were recorded before we watched some Brown Hares and our daily list reached 71 (no House Sparrow, Blue Tit etc). Thanks to everybody who attended.
Anyone wanting to come with us on next year’s field trips please contact me stating that you are a member of the KOS on WhatsApp to 07831-362502 please give your full name.
Sorry, due to their popularity, it’s KOS Members Only!
KOS October Outdoor Meeting
KOS Outdoor Meetings, Ray O’Reilly writes:
Our October KOS Field Outing was on the last day of the month and we spent the day on The Isle of Sheppey. A wet start found us working our way up the Elmley NR entrance track and then onto the hides. The Wellmarsh Hide was nicely sheltered from the elements and being high tide there was plenty of toing and froing especially dabbling duck suck as Pintail, Shoveler, Gadwall and Wigeon and waders like Redshank, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwits, Turnstone, Grey Plover and at least 30 Common Snipe. The latter species huddled together sheltering from the adverse weather. A brief sortie to the Counterwall Hide found it to be in the full force of the weather and unable to even open the flaps. Not so the Southfleet Hide this was again nicely sheltered and good numbers of duck could be studied and discussed at close range.
Our arrival at the car park on our return coincided with the rain stopping and the sun coming out. I decided to look for the recently reported Long-eared Owl and while scanning for it I saw it appear from cover and stretch its wings and tail before calling the group over and we scoped it up in the old orchard. Its long ear tufts and beautiful orange-eyes could be enjoyed. On our exit from the reserve we had 7 Ruff and 12 Cattle Egrets.
We drove along the Capel Fleet Road and had lunch at the Raptor Watchpoint adding 2 Green Sandpipers and a small flock of Corn Bunting. During the afternoon the wind got up and was gusting quite strongly so our low tide walk around Shellness was pretty unproductive although a pair of Avocet found by Adam were a fillip. We stayed until dusk hoping for Owls and Harriers but apart from Marsh Harrier and Kieron having a Little Owl we drew a blank.
The weekend after next we do it all again!
Sorry, due to their popularity, it’s KOS Members Only!
KOS Conference 2021
The continuing uncertainty about mass gatherings and reluctance among members to attend a face to face event has meant that we have reluctantly cancelled the conference planned for November. However, we do intend to use our booked speakers for a series of Winter talks online which will be free, and which we hope will go some way towards compensating for the cancellation of the conference.
KOS September Outdoor Meeting
KOS Outdoor Meetings, Ray O’Reilly writes:
A field outing to Dungeness in September always produces something and our Sunday 19th trip was no exception. We recorded 77 Species, a list that was augmented by our afternoon Seawatch where we had 9 Arctic Skuas including birds that were harassing Sandwich Terns right in front of us. A breeding plumaged Red-throated Diver that sat on the sea was admired by all, a few Brent Geese, Common Guillemot, Common Tern and Common Scoter. A flock of around 40 Kittiwake also rested on the sea and among them were several Mediterranean Gulls.
Our lunch time walk around the Bird Observatory gave prolonged views of a pair of Peregrines. Earlier on the Reserve we saw 2 Black Terns, 5 Cattle and 4 Great White Egrets, 3 Garganey, 6 Ruff, 4 Black-necked Grebes and 80+ Golden Plover in an array of plumages. We had a fair few Northern Wheatears and good numbers of Common Chiffchaffs. Everybody enjoyed close views of a Water Rail that continually showed by the Screen Hide. Critters included good numbers of Clouded Yellow Butterflies and Harbour Porpoise but for me the sighting of the day was a clump of Common Ragwort that was infested with Small Copper Butterflies, it was a beautiful sight (thanks to Dave Walker).
Our participants continued with our international theme with our first ever KOS Argentine birder Yuti Chernajovsky and we look forward to his attendance and photography skills on future outings. Thanks to Yuti for the image of Arctic Skua Jaegering a Sandwich Tern.
KOS August Outdoor Meeting
KOS Outdoor Meetings, Ray O’Reilly writes:
I led today’s Kent Ornithological Society Field Outing to Dungeness, 21st August, and we had a great day out. Once again we had seasoned regulars with two newbies, experiencing a day that 84 species were recorded.
We started at the ARC Pit watching 3 Black-necked Grebes, 3 Great White Egrets and a Glossy Ibis before moving onto Burrows Pit where we had 4 Golden Plovers in breeding plumage, numerous Sand Martins and a Common Sandpiper. The Hay Fields produced 6 Greenshank, 2 Common Snipe and several Yellow Wagtails feeding around cattle’s feet. Kingfisher, Raven, Green Sandpiper were added before we left for Greatstone going on a wader hunt. We arrived just as the tide was starting to ebb and we walked up along the beach towards Lade Sands, the star find was by Dave Perrin who picked up the Little Stint amongst a myriad of shorebirds such as Dunlin, Sanderling, Ringed Plover, Turnstone and Curlew. There were single Whimbrel and Bar-tailed Godwits. Gulls and Terns were much in evidence.
We finished the day off by the fishing boats seawatching and I wasn’t that hopeful as there was little wind and a low tide. How wrong I was as the calm sea gave us many Porpoises and good views of a Balearic Shearwater, 2 Arctic Skuas, 17 Common Scoter and 100+ Sandwich Terns. Our final interesting sighting was 50+ Mediterranean Gulls picking what looked like small fry from the tideline just offshore. Thanks to Lyn who co-led the day and I look forward to our next day out.
KOS May Outdoor Meeting
KOS Outdoor Meetings, Ray O’Reilly writes:
Nowadays we are getting used to running KOS Field Outings in extreme weather conditions and Sunday’s 18th July 2021 was no exception, with it being the hottest day of the year so far with very little shade for much of the day and virtually no breeze. Also by mid July there is little bird song to assist the location of passerines, but with that said we still clocked up 80 Species at Cliffe Pools and Northward Hill.
The highlights included Spoonbill, Yellow-legged Gull, 4 Cattle Egrets, 6 Common Sandpipers, 8 Greenshank and 4 Whimbrel. The weather was however ideal for Butterflies, Dragonflies and Damselflies with 24 species being recorded including White-lettered Hairstreak which was new for all of us that was a group that included seasoned regulars and new attendees and I must say a big thank you to Barrie Cull who stuck it out all day on his first outing in that heat.
Other invertebrates included Silver-washed Fritillary, Clouded Yellow, Marbled White, Common Emerald and for us a new colony of Small Red-eyed Damselflies.
Our next Outdoor Meeting is on Saturday 21st August, 2021 but this is now fully booked. I do have spaces on Sunday 19th September and Sunday 31st October if you are a member and would like to join us.
Sorry, but KOS Members only while covid restrictions continue !
2021 KOS Conference
Following a highly successful conference in 2018 another conference was planned for 2020. Sadly along with many other events this had to be postponed and is now planned for November 2021. A final decision on whether this event will go ahead will be made shortly. More details to follow.
KOS Outdoor Meetings
All members are welcome to join us on any of the field trips below. A good chance for experienced birders to meet other enthusiasts or visit new sites and for beginners to benefit from expert guidance. For more information on our outdoor meeting programme contact Ray O’Reilly 07831 362502 ">
Depending on recent sightings, weather, wind direction and tide, the location of field meetings is decided two days prior to the outing. Participants can stay as long as they would like. Field Trips are always a full day.
Bring adequate clothing, boots and at times wellies. On rare occasions sun hats and sun cream. Packed lunch, flask and water are essential, as we do not stop at shops or cafes.
We will stop at available toilets when possible. We cater for both beginners and experts and have a policy of understanding what species a bird is and why. We often look at birds’ present and previous distribution. We explore erstwhile names and who birds are named after.
We enjoy ALL other wildlife including plant life and take our time at sites, not rushing around. As an item of fun we keep a daily bird list record high of 98, lowest 62.
Because of current Covid restrictions participation in field meetings currently is restricted to KOS members
We are pleased to announce the remaining Field Outings for this year:
- November 14th 2021
- December 12th 2021
Sorry, but KOS Members Only!
Report on outdoor meeting May 2021(Ray O’Reilly)
We started off this month’s field excursions just outside the county at Broadwater Warren NR which is a stones throw from Tunbridge Wells where we had an evening walk. On both occasions we had a mixture of seasoned birders and new KOS members and we all gelled nicely. A Garden Warbler sang near the car park and we marvelled at the numbers of singing Willow Warblers. As we strolled around the heathland a WW2 Spitfire flew over our head and we were surprised to hear a Nightjar churring at 6:30pm but alas we couldn’t locate him. We would have to wait another three hours before getting views and then they would be very different ones throughout the group, although we had at least four singing males heard.
A superb Hobby was watched perched and Dan spotted a pair of Dartford Warblers that we watched on and off throughout the evening. They were very late to go to roost. Yellowhammers were also numerous on site and great views of singing birds were had by all. A close calling female Tawny Owl called an end to the meeting and we left with 30 species recorded.
On Sunday we visited my local patch Cliffe Pools with the hope that we would see the long staying Collared Pratincole and we weren’t disappointed as we saw it on at least two different occasions with Mike Roser and Dave Perrin having an additional lunchtime showing. Cuckoos put on a good show with at least four birds, a fleeting Kingfisher spotted by Gunther and at least eight Nightingales often still in full song. Lesser Whitethroats also seemed particularly numerous and I haven’t seen so many Yellow Wagtails on the pools for ages as they are usually in the cereal fields around the village. A splendid red Black-tailed Godwit was enjoyed as was a Little Ringed Plover seen on a couple of occasions on the Flamingo Pool. All in all 80 species were recorded and other critters included Roe Deer, Common Seal, Stoat, Large White, Orange-tip and Wall Butterflies, a 20-Spotted Ladybird and Common Blue Damselfly. Highlights of flora were several clumps of Goat’s Beard at Cliffe.
Changes to the outdoor meeting programme (Ray O’Reilly)
Following the pandemic and given the increase in people now using the outdoors, I am going to make some changes to our outdoor meetings. These have been brought about by no longer being able to car share and the amount of folk wanting to attend these trips.
It is no longer practical to have large numbers of people, members and non-members turn up for our birding, as on Sunday we had 20 birders which is a number that is unmanageable even with Lyn assisting (an unsung hero). We once had 32 people at a Dungeness in 2018.
We now cannot get parked up at sites and Lyn and I cannot give people the time that they deserve. I now propose the following changes that will take place beginning 11th September!
I will be running two meetings per month.
These will be a Sunday morning until c1pm and a Friday afternoon/evening. Not all-day outings.
These will be limited to 10 people including myself and Lyn should she attend.
Participants will be selected on a first come basis and if the trip is full, they will be able to book on the next suitable trip for them.
Non-members will pay 5 GBP to attend these field trips.
I will contact those booked the night before on morning visits and lunchtime on PM ones. I require a current Mobile Phone Number or E-Mail address.
This will commence on Friday 11th September followed by the already agreed date of Sunday 13th September.
The PM trips will give us an exciting opportunity to target Owls, Nightjars, Woodcock and unusual birds found earlier in the day.
These trips will mostly be in Kent, but could be in neighbouring counties.
Message me on 07831-362502
Those existing regulars who do not have a mobile or E-Mail just need to let me know that they want to attend.
Report on outdoor meeting April 2021 (Ray O’Reilly)
We are back with our Outdoor Meetings and had a busy weekend 21st – 23rd April 2021 with 100 species recorded in challenging conditions that included three species Bittern, Willow Warbler and Cuckoo on our pre-meeting walk at Westbere.
This was probably one of the most challenging weekends since my tenure as the leader as bitterly cold North-easterly winds prevailed throughout both days, becoming even stronger as the day wore on yesterday at Dungeness. It made communication difficult and every loose item had to be held onto. On a plus side it was dry the entire time.
On Friday we met in the main Car Park at Stodmarsh NNR and made our way through the wood towards the Marsh Hide, Common Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Barn Swallow and Common Treecreepers were recorded. Bullfinch showed to some and we listened to the difference between Reed and Sedge Warbler songs (through the wind), Cetti’s Warblers were seemingly everywhere. At the flood Greenshank, Redshank and Barnacle Goose were added and we all had superb views of a determined Hobby trying to hawk insects aerially.
A lot of work has been carried out on the reserve including much clearance. The installation of benches and viewing flaps have now replaced the Harrison Drove Hide. We wondered up to the viewing ramp at Grove Ferry seeing Wheatear on route Common Snipe, Sparrowhawk and Sand Martin were all seen well and David Rumsey picked out a couple of House Martins.
We walked across to the River Stour, up the river path past the Oxbow Lakes and onto the Lampen Wall and back to the Car Park. Common Terns were back on the Pontoons but little else of note was added.
We decided to spend the final hour of our birding day near the entrance to Elmley Reserve near the Gun Club. A very elusive Cattle Egret was seen as were displaying Meadow Pipits, more Wheatears, Yellow Wagtails and several Red-legged Partridges. We finished the day on 70 species.
On Sunday we met outside the breezy Seawatch Hide at Dungeness at 8 am. Communication was difficult, but we dug in almost immediately seeing a flock of close 25+ Bar-tailed Godwits, many of them in breeding plumage. We would see them and flocks of Whimbrel throughout the day. Kittiwake, Gannet, Fulmar, Guillemot and several flocks of Common Scoter were watched as was a nice Bonxie/Great Skua and an Iceland Gull. We walked up to the patch along the shingle seeing Peregrine Falcon and a lone Red-throated Diver.
We went from there to the Bird Observatory where Dave Walker helped Mike Roser and myself out with some Bee ID. We had a walk out into the Trapping Area down the Pilot Path, along the Long Pits and around the Power Station perimeter fence line. We didn’t add anything new but yet more Wheatears.
Next up was the reserve. We drove down Dengemarsh Road and entered it from the rear, walking up to the flooded Hayfields where we saw a few species of wader, including Dunlin in breeding plumage, Common Swifts buzzed over close by and our first Lesser Whitethroats of the year were recorded as well as another pair of Hobby.
Some of us re-traced our steps and others walked to Cook’s and Tanner’s Pools were we met them and drove up to Burrows Pit. A mixed flock of Dunlin, Ringed Plover and a lone Sanderling were enjoyed.
The ARC Pit was our final destination this month and Dabchick/Little Grebe was our 100th species.
Harbour Porpoise, Grey and Common Seals, Brimstone and Orange-tip Butterflies were among other wildlife and thanks to Lys Muirhead for pointing out a patch of Water Dock at Stodmarsh.
Report on outdoor meeting October 2020 (Ray O’Reilly)
Our outdoor meetings took place on 25th and 30th October and we visited Sheppey and Dungeness. Our new groups of ten worked out perfectly with Lyn leading one group and Myself the other.
On both outings the weather was not kind to us but we battled through. We started at Shellness where we got the tide perfect seeing a smart drake Common Eider in moult and an unexpected Purple Sandpiper found by Lys Muirhead. A host of commoner waders were seen close by including Knot, Sanderling and Bar-tailed Godwit. A flock of four House Martins were also seen.
We moved onto Capel Fleet watching White-fronted Goose, a flock of Corn Bunting sitting right out in the rain, Sparrowhawk and a lovely ringtail Hen Harrier.
We spent a long time looking for the Great Grey Shrike that we failed to see and called it a day mid afternoon.
Our Dungeness trip we met at around 1pm and went to view the ARC pit where Dave Perrin spotted a Black-necked Grebe. The first of five Great White Egrets were enjoyed before we walked up into the reserve looking at Hookers Pits and Denge Marsh before reaching the Hay Fields. Five Cattle Egrets were recorded and a Glossy Ibis was seen by some. Due to the weather dusk fell early and we were all too soon driving home in the dark but not before we made a social visit to the Bird Observatory for a cup of Tea.
Migrant Hawkers braved the elements and were our non avian highlight. We saw 76 species of birds but only 11 species were added at Dungeness surely an all time low?
Report on outdoor meeting September 2020 (Ray O’Reilly)
Our recent September 2020 Field Meetings were a success being our first since the new booking rule. On Friday 11th, we went to a new site in the afternoon Worth Marshes, an area of grazing fields some flooded with hedgerows and The Great Wood. Sparrowhawk and Cetti’s Warblers were seen and a mixed tit flock that contained a couple of Lesser Whitethroats and half a dozen Chiffchaffs were observed on a couple of occasions. Our main target the two Pectoral Sandpipers were easily seen along with a couple of Green Sandpipers. Stock Dove and Buzzard were added to the list as we carried on over a narrow bridge that was a challenge to navigate. We arrived at some duck pools with Gadwall, Wigeon and Shoveler present. Many Migrant Hawkers and Speckled Woods were spotted. We walked back through the pleasant village of Worth after previously looking around the Churchyard. A Ring-necked Parakeet flew over. We then moved onto Sandwich Bay where we saw no less than 11 Grey Partridges calling and interacting and a small group of Curlew.
On Sunday 13th, we met at the Hanson Hide Car Park at Dungeness at 8am and looked across the ARC pit from two places Pintail, Black-necked Grebe, Great White Egret, Golden Plover, 2 Cattle Egrets and a Glossy Ibis were watched. We walked up to the Water Tower Pines where we saw at least 50 Chiffchaffs, Lesser Whitethroats, Blackcap, 4 Greenfinch and 65 Siskin. A stroll back and around Boulderwall Farm and Cook’s Pool gave us more views of the three species of Egret including Little of course and Liz found a Sedge Warbler. A Clouded Yellow was also seen.
We then went onto the reserve where I received a phone call from Martin Casemore to tell us that a White Stork had been spotted I picked it up in the distance being mobbed by gulls. We saw it again around lunchtime at the Bird Observatory where we saw Black Redstarts, Wheatears and Stonechats, the latter in the hand thanks to Dave Walker. An afternoon jaunt to Scotney Gravel Pits was quiet apart from bucket loads of Egyptian Geese and a lone Avocet. Our final piece of birding was Seawatching at the Fishing Boats with more Wheatears. The first hour was quiet and almost by the clicking of a switch I got onto a Little Tern that was soon being pursued by an Arctic Skua and another four appeared with some sitting on the sea. To top it off a flock of three Balearic Shearwaters came sailing by putting a top finish on the day.
93 Species were seen (Lyn will not let us count the heards).
Report on outdoor meeting August 2020 (Ray O’Reilly)
We had a great turn out for our first Outdoor meeting post lockdown on Sunday 30th August 2020 and due to the weather conditions, a breezy wind East of North I decided to start at Shellness seawatching. Many other people had the same idea and so we socially distanced to the others but close enough to hear some of the shouts.Seawatching is tough birding as you have only a couple of minutes to get onto the bird usually before it disappears out of sight. One of the advantages of Shellness is that the seabirds get lost and so can come past on multiple occasions as they get their bearings adjusted. A problem though is the sound of the wind and with hoods up it can be difficult to hear the cries and instructions. A good spotting scope is essential.
A couple of Green Sandpipers were flying around our meeting point at Shellness Car Park giving their too-it calls, Swallows were hawking low over the salt marsh and it wasn’t long before we were watching Gannets in an array of plumages including 3rd year birds with their piano-key marked secondaries. Arctic Skuas were significant birds today with large numbers being enjoyed by everybody. We had adults in dark and pale morph plumages and a variety of juveniles, it was noticeable how much they could differ in size. Some of them came over the blockhouse and went over the salt marsh and a distant flock of 42 birds from Oare in the afternoon was my largest flock ever. A group of eight birds contained two juvenile Long-tailed although not all the group picked these up.
A couple of Common Scoter went by as did Wigeon and Kittiwakes. Great Skua/Bonxie flocks of up to a dozen birds wheeled around before we walked up to the blockhouse to study the waders and terns Knot, Sanderling, Bar-tailed Godwits and breeding plumaged Grey Plover were watched through the scope. Among the terns Sandwich and Common were the most numerous and eight Little and a single Arctic Tern were found perched. We had a few of the latter at both Shellness and Oare.
We headed to Oare Marshes late morning to catch the tide and because of parking we walked onto the reserve along side Oare Creek where Hobby and Mediterranean Gull were added to the day list.
At Oare we walked past the East Flood seeing Golden Plover many of them still in breeding dress and also several Ruff. We carried out another seawatch from by the hide on the Swale where both Common and Grey Seals were watched. We walked from there to Dan’s Dock seeing several Wheatears and Whinchats.
Another look on the East Flood produced juvenile Yellow Wagtails, Bearded Tit, Snipe and a Water Rail feeding out in the open along with the usual waders.
Report on outdoor meeting October (Ray O’Reilly)
Once again it was a good turn for today’s KOS Outdoor meeting” (March 31st) “despite it being Mother’s Day. The brisk cold Nor’easterly breeze gave the day a wintery feel. We started the day at Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory where we walked to the Restharrow Scrape after looking around the garden, we went up to the coastguards, where we had a brief seawatch and a stroll up the side of the golf links. We retraced our steps and cut through The Elms before returning to the Obs for a coffee break.
We then drove to the Chequers and birded that area. Highlights were numerous Greenfinches (a refreshing change), 44 Brent Geese, 2 Gannets, Red-throated Diver, 2 Sandwich Terns, 7 Goldcrest, several Chiffchaff, 5 Swallows, a pair of Grey Partridge and a very smart male Black Redstart.
We headed off to have lunch at the viewing ramp at Grove Ferry/Stodmarsh NNR. We visited the David Feast and Marsh Hides and walked up the River Stour finding a lovely Water Pipit, 15+ Snipe, Green Sandpiper, 50+ Sand Martins and 30+ Swallows and a House Martin was seen, we finished around 5pm.
Report on outdoor meeting February 2020 (Ray O’Reilly)
At the KOS we leave the decision on the venues for our birding to within 48 hours of our meeting so that we can have the most up-to-date news of interesting birds, weather and site conditions possible. However the dates that we go are set in stone, so we knew that sooner or later one of these days would fall on a significant storm and today was that day as we braved Storm Ciara.
I opted to meet up at Shellness, Sheppey at the rather later time of 10am. We had driven the Capel Fleet road earlier and seen very few birds and what we did see was mostly hunkered down.
We trudged out to the shelter on a rising tide standing on the leeward side watching waders such as Knot, Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit and Dunlin come ever closer frantically feeding oblivious of the conditions. Several flocks of Brent Geese were checked and were all found to be Dark-bellied.
We struggled out to the point to see if any birds had be blown in onto the sand or shingle spit but the wind howled even stronger picking up sand, shells and small pebbles sending then flying into the air accompanied by torrential rain this made birding impossible.
We headed to Leysdown for lunch by the sea obviously in our vehicles, here we checked more geese and gulls finding 3 Lesser Black-backeds, when a large female Merlin was seen hurtling along the beach, this was followed by a male who caught some prey presumably a shorebird?
We wanted to check Chatham Dockyard to see if anything had been blown into the basins there, a Shag was our best find. At around 3:30pm we called it a day and headed home to Cliffe.
We had 43 Species, quite an achievement considering the weather.
Report on outdoor meeting January 2020 (Ray O’Reilly)
We had a great turn out for out first Outdoor Meeting of the year today at Dungeness. Weather wise it was a dreary-grey day but much better than the forecast and we only saw rain fairly late in the afternoon. It was particularly nice to have Johan Norrlin along with us, a Swedish gentleman who was catching a plane back to Stockholm this evening! We started off walking to the Hanson Hide seeing Cetti’s Warbler, Goldcrest, Great White Egret, several Goldeneye and Firecrest (seen by a few but alas not by me).
We walked over to Boulderwall Farm and the adjacent pools where we had large numbers of Golden Plover, a few Greenfinch, Sparrowhawk, 2 Ravens, a drake Smew and best of all a male Hen Harrier found by Dave Perrin. Our walk around the reserve was a little quieter giving us Kingfisher, Egyptian Geese and close views of a Chiffchaff.
After lunch we headed to Walland Marsh and enjoyed a Swan fest thanks to Gill Hollamby and Neil Burt getting great views of 40 Bewick’s and 2 Whooper Swans. We did a short Sea-watch from Jury’s Gap seeing Gannet and Fulmar before finishing the day at Scotney Gravel Pits where the heavens opened, more Ravens were observed as were 5 Ruff including one male in transitional plumage. We closed the day in the rain on 75 Species. Photo David Fenton-Scott. Our next outing is Sunday February 9th.
Field Trips meet at 8am and the venues are announced near the time dependent on up-to-date bird news, with weather, wind and tide taken into consideration. Advised to always bring wellies, drinks and sandwiches.
Report on outdoor meeting December 2019 (Ray O’Reilly)
We had our final outdoor meeting of the decade starting at dawn and finishing at dusk at the car park of Stodmarsh NNR where a Tawny Owl showed; it was my first ever at this site. We had a predictably low turn out of members although those of us that did attend were glad to get out, have some exercise and fresh air, after several days of captivity and excess.
We were met with a mild dry windless day and this enabled good views of birds such as Hen Harrier, Water Rail, Bearded Tit, Treecreeper, Goldcrest, Great White Egret, Cetti’s Warbler and Kingfisher. We recorded 57 species including at least 6 Chiffchaff and 300+ Fieldfare. The water levels were very high and the paths very squidgy. We also had a frustrating time with pipits seeing many but never getting clear views of anything other than Meadow Pipit.
Report on outdoor meeting November 2019 (Ray O’Reilly)
We had a topsy-turvy penultimate Outdoor Meeting of the year in the Dungeness area today. We met at the Fishing Boats where a few Brent Geese, Kittiwake and a single Scoter were seen, a fishing boat sailed past gutting fish attracting many gulls and a small male Peregrine in pursuit.
Moving on we looked at the reinstated patch and watched eight Red-throated Divers move past in flight. We walked across the shingle and arrived spaced out at the moat when I picked out a bright juvenile Pallas’ Warbler, fairly low to the ground, loosely associated with some Goldcrests and Firecrests and at one point it hovered showing its lemon-yellow rump. Alas only three members saw the bird and apart from one other birder it wasn’t seen again for the rest of the day.
A phone call alerted us to a Stone Curlew on the beach near Greatstone and we were all soon enjoying scope views of this very special bird. Sandwich Terns were feeding close inshore and a selection of other waders were scoped. A very late lunch was had at the ARC Pit where Goldeneye, Cetti’s Warbler and another Firecrest were seen. We stayed out until dusk watching three Short-eared Owls, Golden Plovers and Red-legged Partridges on Lydd Ranges before calling it a day. Thanks to Martin Casemore for his help today and thanks to DBO for accommodating us with refreshments etc.
Report on outdoor meeting October 2019 (Ray O’Reilly)
Today’s outdoor meeting was greeted with some welcome October sunshine that lasted throughout the day and as a result a total of 90 Species were seen between us.
We commenced at the Raptor Watch Point, Capel Fleet watching Green Sandpipers, Corn Buntings and Stonechats and some large flocks of Linnets were studied. We moved from there to Shellness where we met the County Recorder Barry Wright and Young Birder of the Year, James King who told us of a drake Eider resting on the point. A large perched female Peregrine and a ringtail Hen Harrier were also enjoyed along with 8 Gannets and 3 Common Scoter. A walk to Harty Church over the very dry Swale Reserve gave us Cattle Egret and a Grey Wagtail.
After a quick lunch we headed off to Cliffe Pools and here we met Linturn Hopkins and Bernie Weight. The pits had benefited from the recent rain and the light was superb. The last few warblers, dragonflies and Butterflies were relishing the afternoon sun. 2 Greenshank, several Pintail, a redhead Goosander and a superb 1st Winter Grey Phalarope rounded the day off beautifully, a new bird for at least a couple of our members.
Report on outdoor meeting September 2019 (Ray O’Reilly)
The weather looked ideal for migrant birds for our KOS Outdoor Meeting at Dungeness on the 22nd September,
Sixteen of us met outside the Bird Observatory and ventured out into the Trapping Area around 8am we then walked up The Pilot Path before swinging round close to the Power Station perimeter fence and finally via the moat returning to the Obs. The going was slow, plenty of Swallows and Sand Martins passing through with Meadow Pipits, Stonechats, Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Robins and Dunnocks in the bushes. A small group of Wheatear were seen here and later on in the morning also.
It started to rain fairly heavily so we visited the shelter of the Hanson and Screen Hides and worked the area close by. Great White and Cattle Egrets sat on a close by island, a few Pintail upended in the shallows, one or two juvenile Common Terns were hawking over the ARC Pit. We had our first Goldeneye of the autumn and a flock of 38 Golden Plover on the shingle gave us a couple of birds in mostly breeding plumage. Goldcrest and Yellow Wagtail was added to the day list.
We went to the reserve visitors centre for lunch, en route Brian had a pair of Whinchats. The reserve itself was quiet with very few migrants a ruby-eyed Black-necked Grebe was the pick of the bunch found by Ted.
Dave Perrin, John Thompson and Brian Crawford decided to go to the Fishing Boats for a seawatch adding Gannet, Arctic Skua, Kittiwake, Sandwich Tern and Common Scoter. Taking our daily total to 76 Species seen. This was the first ever field trip that we did not record Blackbird!
Report on outdoor meeting August 2019 (Ray O’Reilly)
The August KOS Field Trip took place at Dungeness on the on the 18th August
We had a particularly high turn out for today’s field trip to Dungeness including three debutantes, clocking up a staggering 94 Species all seen with a couple of other species just heard. We had seen 80 species by lunchtime (a record for us!).
We started and finished the day with a seawatch firstly from the hide and lastly from the fishing boats, many Gannets, Common and Sandwich Terns were present, 4 Common Scoter, Fulmar, 3 Kittiwakes and a dark morph Arctic Skua chasing terns. A flock of Turnstone were on the beach including a pristine bird in full breeding livery, Harbour Porpoise kept leaping out of the English Channel glistening in the sunshine.
We moved onto the Power Station, the area around the bird observatory including The Moat where we watched Wheatears, Black Redstarts, Stonechats, Whitethroats and Peregrines including the latter dive bombing a Common Buzzard. Many butterflies were recorded including Small Copper and a Hummingbird Hawk Moth was examined in the hand.
We made our way mid morning to the ARC Pit and went to the Hanson and Blind Hides and wandered up to the pines. An Osprey gave great views as it sailed over us, several Hobby, 4 Wood Sandpiper, Common and Little Gulls, Common Swift, Great White Egret, at least 8 Willow Warblers, 3 Garganey, 3 Little Ringed Plovers and a few Ruff were all additions for the day.
Lunch was had outside for most and inside Dennis’ Hide for some, before visiting Firth and Makepeace Hides adding Yellow Wagtails, Black Terns, Golden Plovers, Lesser Whitethroats and another view of the Osprey.
We then drove down Denge Marsh Road to Springfield Bridge getting great views of a Bittern and 2 Cattle Egrets.
Thanks to Lys Muirhead for some excellent field work, Lyn Griffiths for running the list and David Fenton-Scott for his image of the Black Redstart.
Report on outdoor meeting July 2019 (Ray O’Reilly)
Following the July KOS Field Trip to Oare Marshes on the 14th July,
Despite three major sporting events we had a good turn out for today’s outdoor meeting to Oare Marshes and environs. The morning started for us with some light rain but became steadily brighter and warmer as the day progressed before turning into a hot, sunny July day.
We were on site to see the tide ebb and flow over the high tide and we finished early around 2pm. The American brace were still present and we had prolonged views of the Lesser Yellowlegs and watched the Bonaparte’s Gull on the Swale feeding on small lug worms and roosting on the flood, both birds were adults in breeding plumage.
We totaled 70 Species including Common Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwits, Peregrine, 2 male Ruff, male Sparrowhawk, Spotted Redshank an adult in transitional plumage, adult Common Gull, Raven, Knot in breeding plumage, 2 distant Little Terns and a Greenshank.
Report on outdoor meeting June 2019 (Ray O’Reilly)
Once again our outdoor meeting was well attended even though it was slightly out of the county in East Sussex at Broadwater Warren RSPB Reserve. We met at 6pm and had a leisurely stroll around most of the reserve. We were unlucky with the weather as our few hours there were the coldest and windiest of the weekend being permanently overcast and we even experienced a little light rain. But this didn’t thwart our quest and at the end of the day we were rewarded with 4 Nightjars including one particularly well marked male another separate bird was heard churring nearby.
The reserve was quiet bird song wise due to the weather but our support cast was equally impressive nevertheless with 8 Willow Warbler, 2 Tree Pipit, 2 Woodlark, 1 Hobby, 2 Treecreeper and 3 Yellowhammer.
Report on outdoor meeting May 2019 (Ray O’Reilly)
We had pleasant sunny weather for our May 12th Outdoor Meeting and a good turn out. We met at 8am at Stodmarsh NNR Car Park and were soon watching a Garden Warbler one of four this morning. The Reed Bed Hide gave us views of a Bittern and the chance to hear another bird booming. Swifts, Swallows and Sand Martins were passing overhead for much of the day and we all enjoyed pleasing views of Cetti’s Warbler.
As the morning warmed up then out came the Hobby’s with a least twenty of these enchanting falcons on view, often flying close by catching insects. Several Cuckoos were seen and heard today as were three Bullfinches. The star turn along the River Stour was a pair of Turtle Doves that we all studied through the scope. A pair of Treecreepers were watched collecting food for young and we had a late lunch back at the car park.
As the tide was rising we decided to make a visit to Pegwell Bay and we were not out of the car two minutes, before we were watching an adult Spoonbill that had obviously been part of a breeding programme in continental Europe. Five Common Sandpipers were among a selection of waders, terns and gulls seen here along with Common and Grey Seals. We had some lovely critters today including a swimming Mole! Broad-bodied Chaser, Variable and Lilac form of Common Damselflies, Banded Demoiselle, Orange-tip Butterfly and two or three species of Shield Bug. We saw 79 Species of birds throughout the day. (Thanks to David Fenton-Scott for the photo of the Spoonbill).
Report on outdoor meeting April 2019 (Ray O’Reilly)
Our KOS Outdoor meeting on April 28th was as enjoyable as ever with another eventful day at Dungeness.
We started the day with a seawatch that produced Common and Sandwich Terns, Mediterranean Gull, Common Scoter, Fulmar and the odd Harbour Porpoise. The power station behind us gave us a male Black Redstart in song and a pair of Peregrine Falcons that were seen grappling and plummeting to Earth and later landing in the garden of Lloyds in front of an astonished resident. They left in opposite directions apparently unharmed.
We took a roundabout route to Denge Marsh and The Hay Fields adding Yellow Wagtail, Tree Sparrow, Little Owl, Cattle Egret in breeding plumage, Reed and Sedge Warblers, Common Swift, Sand Martin, Whimbrel, 3 Bar-tailed Godwits, with two in full breeding plumage, booming Bittern and a Grey Heron struggle to consume a massive Marsh Frog. We then walked to The Makepeace Hide and were rewarded with a drake Garganey and two Little Ringed Plover before heading to Dungeness Bird Observatory for a late lunch not before Lyn found another pair of Garganey.
After dining we had a walk around the moat and the perimeter fence of the Power Station watching a showy pair of Wheatears, we were lucky as the male Serin that was found by Chris Bond was still present with Linnets and we all had excellent scope views of it. Our final stop was to The Hanson Hide and the Viewing Screen by the ARC Pit and our final two species of the day were Blackcap and Lesser Whitethroat making the total seen as 89 Species.
Report on outdoor meeting February (Ray O’Reilly)
A great turn out today for this month’s KOS Field Outing to Dungeness area. A hovering Barn Owl en route next to the road was a good omen. Four Cattle Egrets were feeding in a pasture near Cook’s Pool and we watched them going to roost early evening from the Hanson Hide. Part of the group came with me to Pett Levels and the others walked around the reserve with Lyn. At Pett we saw many freshwater birds including 4 Ruff, on the sea a flock of around 120 Common Scoter contained two Velvets, Fulmars were flying to and fro and were already on the cliffs, Red-throated Divers, Gannets, Kittiwakes and Guillemots were also present. A visit to Jury’s Gap, Scotney Gravel Pits, Horsebones’ and Cockles’ Bridge gave us Bewicks and Whooper Swans and no less than three perched Peregrines were admired this morning. Meanwhile on the reserve Tree Sparrows, a drake Smew, Chiffchaff, Cetti’s Warbler (seen well) were all added. We had lunch at the Bird Observatory before visiting Lydd Gravel Pits, a seawatch by the fishing boats and early evening at the ARC Pit, Mediterranean Gull and Black-necked Grebe were the pick of the birds there. 88 Species recorded.
Our next outing will be March 31st, followed by April 28th, May 12th and June 2nd.
Contact me closer to the time for venue details.”