As Jack Chantler is away for a few days in Norfolk I really needed to find a rarity today as a punishment for leaving the patch in late September, but it wasn't to be. In fact it was pretty quiet. The passage of Siskins continues, although I only counted 55 in four small groups in my walk along the Lees, in addition there were a couple of small groups of Goldfinches. Other migrant numbers seemed lower but the sight of two Peregrines and several Kestrels and Sparrowhawks made the walk worth while. Back at home I watch the "thing" (the BIG falcon) cruising round over the village until it was chased by a Hobby.
This afternoon I decided to go and look at Fowlmead Country Park. My initial thoughts when I've popped in to look at the information centre have been that it doesn't look like my idea of a country park, but I didn't have a good walk round then. Today I walked to the lake and then up to the viewing platform.
There is no doubt that this gives a splendid view over Worth Marshes, I saw a Short-eared Owl and a Marsh Harrier both hunting in the distance. Nearby I watched the modern version of a cowboy. You don't ride a horse to round up your cattle, you drive a Range Rover, and very effective it was too.
Looking over the marshes, I could see Sandwich Bay Observatory, (above the second compartment of the train) and back left Manston Airport.
Looking to my right the Chequers Restaurant, on the Ancient Highway looks quite close in this picture. but it is 1.49 Km (nearly a mile) as the crow flies.
The park is built on the old spoil heap of Betteshanger Colliery, that closed in 1989 and the Richborough power station is another industrial monument to a passed age.
The lake is small and apart from two fleeting views of a Kingfisher, flying in and then back out across the marshes, I saw very little. I'm sure in the summer it will be home some birds in the reeds, but overall it seems to me to be an opportunity missed. The lake is small and situated so that it will be continually disturbed by people using the paths. More careful thought could have given views over a more secluded lake from a screened approach. I did see some dragonflies, Common Darters and Migrant Hawkers, and hopefully the lake and ditches will be good for them and other species. It is obvious from the Fowlmead C.P. WEB site that little priority has been given to the potential it has for birds, considering what a prime site it is. The little write up might have done credit to a primary school pupil but is less than satisfactory as part of the description of a country park that has had a considerable amount of funds spent on it. (I wouldn't have expected spelling mistakes). If the objective was for a biking, dog walking and jogging area, then I'm sure it will meet their needs, but for a true country park they could learn much from the Lee Valley in London. where they seem to do a lot better in meeting mixed needs.