Friday, 16 January 2009

I've caught the wader bug, or as they say in the USA, a touch of the Shorebirds.

In the summer Joss Bay is a busy area for visitors, but in January, apart from a few dog walkers (they're banned in the summer for most of the day) the main uses are birds.

The bay is over-looked by the The Captain Digby, that is possibly one of the oldest drinking houses in Thanet. Lord Holland originally built it as a Bede House between 1763 and 1768. This was a place for drinking and entertainment by Lord Holland’s guests from the impressive Holland House some hundred yards to the south.

This grey Plover appears to be doing some sort of balancing trick, or perhaps it thinks it's a knot and is try to do a King Canute?

When the tide is out large areas of rocks are exposed, and these are used for feeding by large numbers of waders. As the tide comes in the birds, such as these Oystercatchers come closer to the sand and idly wait around until the sea finally makes them move off the rocks to roost elsewhere.

The commonest bird there today were Turnstones, although it wasn't stones they were turning over in search of food, but seaweed.

The ubiquitous Redshank was there in smaller numbers, searching the small pools that were left between the rocks.

As the tide came in the one or two Curlews that had been feeding there left to go to their roost.

Groups of Ringed Plovers moved towards the beach, settled for a sleep, only to find a few minutes later that they had to move again. I'd just found the only Purple Sandpiper I saw there today, when they took off to roost further up the beach. The Sandpiper is partly hidden, as it's got its head down, almost dead centre.

Groups of Ringed Plovers and Turnstones flew along the beach, but I failed to re-find the Purple Sandpiper.
Almost as soon as they land the plovers tuck their heads under their wings and take a nap. One or two must stay alert, because as soon as one of the dogs that were being exercised approached them, they moved off to a quieter area of sand.

The Turnstones walked up the beach, and almost as if they can't help themselves, started turning over the stranded bits of seaweed.

One lone Sanderling ran along the beach, doing its impression of a clockwork toy. It wasn't until I looked at the pictures I'd taken that I noticed it was wearing a ring. Sanderling are unique among the waders in that they only have three toes per foot.

I once again managed to miss the Barn Owls on the way home, but Steve Ray tells me that they were there and had I not been so idle (my words) and walked a bit I would have seen one. I did however have good views of a Hen Harrier quartering over the nearest patch of reeds, in the twilight.


Dylan Wrathall said...

Whilst your postings are most informative, one small point. The bay you watched is Kingsgate Bay and not Joss Bay, which is at the bottom of Elmwood Avenue.
All the best - Dylan

Tony Morris said...

Hi Dylan, I actually watched the waders in Joss Bay, but did walk to Hackemdown Point, between the two Bays, and photographed the Digby across Kingsgate Bay, and of course never thought to get the name right on the photo. Thanks for pointing it out. I don't think that Kingsgate Bay has a way out at high tide, so anyone going there must be careful as the tide rises.