My top 11 bird experiences

By Evan Goodwin

I have been birdwatching for a couple of years now, but some experiences are more special than others. These are my favourite eleven bird experiences.

11- ‘Buzzard Buzz’ -SBBOT

Before visiting SBBOT, my count of buzzards seen in my lifetime was something like 5. I’m sure that has doubled or even tripled since I first came. When I first entered the place there were buzzards everywhere. Visiting SBBOT really helped me notice these fantastic birds of prey.

Buzzard by Steve Reynaert

10- ‘The fastest animal there is’ -Dungeness

If this was a list of the most spectacular bird experiences I’ve had, this would be number 1. We were just leaving the reserve and had already accepted that we had seen some good birds, when suddenly a bird dived into a bush directly next to our car. Me and my mum immediately suspected it was the fastest animal on the planet- the fabulous peregrine falcon. Our suspicions were verified as the magnificent bird flew back out of the bush. This is definitely a highlight of my time spent birding.

Peregrine by Ian Hodgson

9- ‘Last-minute Cattle Egrets’ -Stodmarsh NNR/Grove Ferry

There are three egrets that live in the UK: Little Egret, Great White Egret and the rarest, Cattle Egret. Luckily the Cattle Egret hasn’t gone unnoticed by me this year. But only just. We were actually just leaving the hide when the egret flew in. Luckily, they got there before we opened the door so we managed to spot them coming in. This was a close spot so I thought I’d include it.

Cattle Egret by Nick Smith

8- ‘Just birds’ -SBBOT

This is just to mention the sheer amount of birds SBBOT has. On Restharrow Scrape, there are tufted ducks, little grebe, shoveler, lapwing, snipe and more. All over the reserve, you can see chaffinch, house sparrow, goldfinch and even more than that. So number eight is just being at SBBOT, really.

Little Grebe by Mike Gould

7- ‘Pheasant in a tr- oh wait, it isn’t anymore’ -Pegwell Bay

This just made me jump. We were enjoying a walk at Pegwell in the sun, when suddenly a pheasant decided to fly out of a tree I was right next to. One of its feathers fell off and I have it to this day.

Pheasant in a tree by Paul Coltman

6- ‘That’s what we came here for’ -Oare Marshes

This is here because it is one of the only times we go somewhere looking for a specific bird and come back successful. This time it was the lovely avocet we were seeking. So we went to Oare Marshes with not very much hope, but we still saw them. They flew in while we were looking, so that's pretty lucky too.

Avocet by Paul Coltman

5- ‘A friend’ -St. Mildred’s bay

I am a strange person. One of my habits is talking to birds, especially turnstones. So in the winter when I have a walk down the promenade, I often chat to turnstones. That’s it really: I like chatting to birds.

Turnstone by Paul Coltman

4- ‘Why aren’t you scared?’ -Grove Ferry

Long tailed tits are, generally, shy. But at Grove Ferry they are obviously very happy to just fly into a bush directly in front of you. Those two sentences kind of explain my point: I once went on a walk at Grove Ferry and some long-tailed tits flew right in front of me and sat on a branch

Long-tailed Tit by Paul Coltman

3- ‘Why aren’t you scared? V. 2.0’ -Wildwood

This is very similar to the last one, but with treecreepers in a tree. Again, we were just having a wander down the path at Wildwood, when a few treecreepers flew onto a tree that I was very nearly brushing on. This is higher than the last one because from my experience treecreepers are rarer than long-tailed tits.

Treecreeper by John Buckingham

2- ‘I took a trip to the orphanage yesterday’ -Stodmarsh NNR

Seeing goslings is one thing. Seeing Egyptian geese goslings is another. But seeing Egyptian geese adopting a greylag gosling along with their own chicks is a whole new thing altogether. But this is exactly what happened at Stodmarsh NNR and it was 10/10 for cuteness.

Egyptian Goose and chicks

1- ‘Oh hello there’ -Stodmarsh NNR

And finally, the number one spot goes to: (drum roll please) a robin eating from a pot that I’m holding. This also happened a second time on this visit to Stodmarsh, when a male fed the female in a mating ritual. I just really loved this, it might have been the happiest I’ve ever been.

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