Thursday, 18 January 2018

Winter surge

A whole metre on top? At least the spring tide was a low one- 5.7 metres. And the strong winds had died down. Topping out wouldn't be too choppy, birds should behave.

Copperhouse an hour before high tide

But they didn't. Instead of ending up due north, they went west to Hoo Island. More specifically, Hoo saltings, between the island and Folly Point; Dunlin and Knot could be seen putting the air brakes on and dropping down behind Hoo Fort. The only theory I have for this is the strength of the winds during the past 24 hours, peaking at a 63 m.p.h. westerly in the wee small hours. Hoo saltings are sheltered from westerlies behind the raised land of Hoo island. Unfortunately it can only really be viewed from the north shore, so I have to presume most were on the saltings rather than the island itself. As the tides continue to rise over the years, Hoo might become the only safe roost, but for now the island is largely ignored.

Wader flightlines in the hour before high tide

The wildfowl were taking a different approach. Rather than risk time on land (which would mainly be on Ham Green) they were widely scattered over the Rainham creek waters. Clearly birds from Copperhouse and Gillingham marshes (with, perhaps, some of the Nor/Friars numbers) had swollen numbers to their highest count for Rainham this winter.

Finally, the Rock Pipit rule worked perfectly- 'peak counts on the shore on a surge'. Many of the island birds have to make for the mainland under such conditions, with double figures on Horrid. Highest counts of Reed Bunting for a while as well.

The Sharps Green Bay wrecks were not only busy, but magnetic; if any of the
birds put up, they soon returned. When the choice of safe roosts is limited, you
 don't move on.

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