The field in which Restharrow Scrape is situated was originally leased in 2001, and the scrape was created. A scrape is an artificial wetland and acts as a refuge for many ducks and wading birds. The area was leased until 2019 when the land was then purchased by the Observatory. Subsequently the scrape was enlarged, a new bird hide was installed, the old hide was refurbished, and accessibility to all was greatly enhanced. Find out more about this ongoing project HERE.
In spring you can find species fighting over island areas for breeding spaces. Black-headed Gulls, Lapwings, and Oystercatchers breed on these islands and will be setting up territories and displaying to one another. Several pairs of Avocets have nested here in recent years, the first-ever in our corner of East Kent. Mediterranean Gulls are often seen here amongst groups of Black-headed Gulls. Tufted Ducks, Coot and Gadwall are also interesting Spring staples.
Autumn is the best time of the year for waders on the scrape. There can be up to 25 species using the wetland during this time. Autumn in the bird world starts around mid-July when breeding ends and migration begins. Species to look out for include Little Egret, Greenshank, Common, Green and Wood Sandpipers. Within groups of Dunlin you might find rarer species such as Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper and even Pectoral Sandpiper, an American species.
The migration season continues until mid-November with Curlew and Lapwing flocks regularly dropping in. Other birds to watch for during this time include Ruff, Little Ringed Plover and Ringed Plover, Snipe and Jack Snipe, Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits, and Whimbrel and Spotted Redshank.
In winter there are often large flocks of Lapwings accompanied by Golden Plover in the fields nearby. On the scrape itself, large numbers of ducks, especially Eurasian Teal, and smaller numbers of Shovelers and Gadwall overwinter here. Since the enlargement of the scrape in 2019 there have been increasing records of both Yellow-legged and Caspian Gulls which enjoy larger sized water bodies. Winter is also when large flocks of Greylag Geese use the scrape, however, check each group closely for occurrences of rarer species such as the odd White-fronted or Pink-footed Goose!