Walk 11 Nov 2023

Past Events

Walk 11 Nov 2023

Eleven of us turned up to enjoy this month’s beautifully sunny and warm walk around Flat Beach. We had already enjoyed views of a Spoonbill sweeping the shallow water of a pool on the saltmarsh when we came across a Dartford Warbler in the brambles at Cuckoo Corner. One or two of these little heathland birds winter on the reserve in most years though it’s not clear where they come from. Not Dartford, certainly, though that’s where the first type-specimens were “collected” (ie shot) in the late 18th century. (Actually it was Bexleyheath, at that time a desolate area still frequented by highwaymen.) The nearest few pairs breed not far away at Hastings Country Park.

Dartford Warblers are long-tailed, skulking scrub-birds, usually hard to see well and they either hide or flit from bush to dense bush but we didn’t have to wait too long before it perched up on a Hawthorn, showing off its grey-brown upper-parts, deep pink breast and red eye in the sunshine.

This and the spoonbill were new species for some on the walk and we then searched for – but failed to find – something even scarcer: a Grey Phalarope which had been present for the previous two days. This is an arctic-breeding wader which winters well out in the Atlantic but was one of many oceanic birds driven onshore by recent storms. It had been on a flooded field which remains unnamed on the Picturemaps Tea-towel on sale in the Discovery Centre (on which all other known sites are identified). It has been suggested that the adjacent “Pool With No Name” might be called the “Sand Martin Pool” on account of the wall-with-holes installed there years ago to encourage them to nest. However, they have never shown it any interest and it’s now completely underwater.

We don’t just concentrate on scarce species; we saw a lot of other birds – more than 50 species – including several Stonechats, a Kingfisher and hundreds of varied waterbirds, all of which noisily took flight at the detonation of the 11 o’clock Armistice Day maroon.