Friday, 5 January 2018

Thou shalt have a Kitty when the boat comes in

The Lady Clara is an odd 'un. As with most regular vessels on the Medway, I've checked her out on the excellent Marine Traffic website . Even though she's only just over ten years old, she's had several name changes. If you look closely you can see the raised metal of the original name under 'Lady Clara'- she started as 'Okko Tom Brook', then became 'Lady NTER', then 'Lady Cheetah', then just 'Lady'. All those strange name changes, BOU would be proud.

I was pleased to see Clara. I'd blagged a ride to Queenborough and got a three hour pass to rest up and take in the estuary airs on a bench by the Lappel. And Clara had just popped over from Rotterdam heading for Ridham Dock down the Swale. She'd entered the Medway via the deep water channel and had just what I wanted in tow; Kittiwakes, four of them. Not the easiest bird to pick up on the estuary, but they are partial to a ship's churnings, and today's quartet actually went a few hundred metres into the Swale before thinking they really ought to turn back for the coast. If they'd latched onto a Medway Towns bound boat, then they might have hung on as far up as Pinup Reach. The only ship to pass that way, the dredger Arco Avon, had had the expected 50-plus Herrings and a mix of the other common gull species, but no Kitts; they're never guaranteed, but check, and you shall find.

Otherwise the interest was the lateness of the Thames-feeding Curlews in to roost. The texts tell you they are often one of the first to assemble, one of the last to leave, but they were last in today; just over 130 flew in to join the Shepherd's Creek roost. Perhaps the poor feeding conditions over the past few days had caused them to make the most of the flats? Oystercatchers were fairly quiet, just under 400 in, but more than 1,600 Dunlins, fast and low, were entertaining enough.  Over the water, the northshore Brent Geese at Grain were joined by over 400 birds from beyond Sheerness, so, unable to tell if down the deep water channel or in from north Sheppey; no matter, always enjoy a decent skein.

Left before the top of the tide; with another surge due, didn't want to get my op wound wet- and looking at the promenade, it had certainly been wet yesterday. The half-dozen Rock Pipits were enjoying the mess.


Finally, it seems Jan 5th is my traditional date for a first visit to Queenborough:

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