Monday 27 March 2023

Kent delivers - Pendulines and Alpine Swift

Saturday 25th March had a great session out with Andy and Shaun in Kent. The plan was to start at Elmley to try and see long staying Penduline Tits, a species I have not seen for around 10 years. 

The windy conditions weren't in our favour but we persevered. After an hour or so we could hear regular calls from the large reed bed in front of us, however, seeing them was another matter. Over the next hour the calls appeared to be coming from closer to us, and then eventually, after about 2 hours 3 Pendulines gave themselves up, providing good flight views on and off and they flitted about the tops of the reeds, not too far away. Great views of numerous Marsh Harriers were also had.

While waiting for the Pendulines to show news came through of an Alpine Swift showing sell at Dagenham Chase, literally 5 minutes drive from my house. Virtually every local birder we knew had connected with it so Shaun and I were a tad jealous. We considered our options but due to large amounts of road closures in Kent we decided to head back to Essex to twitch the swift. As we neared the Dartford Crossing, Shaun saw that an Alpine Swift was being reported at Darenth Lakes, which was literally 1 mile from where we were. We diverted and within 5 minutes we were in place and quickly picked it up hawking over the lakes. 

 Darenth Lake Alpine Swift - photo by Andy Lawson

Shaun and I carried on to Dagenham Chase, but the bird appeared to have left ahead of a storm front. That evening however the bird was reported again, so I headed to my loft and unbelievably, I picked it out in the distance. A bird I never thought I'd ever get on my house list!

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