An update composed by Blean Woods and Seasalter Levels intern, Ben Lawson:

In a slight change to the blog, I am going to introduce you to Blean Woods’ associated reserve Seasalter Levels. Seasalter is a small town located to the west of Whitstable and the reserve, while not yet open to the public, is comprised mainly of wet grassland with some patches of scrub and a reedbed.

Over the winter, we have been conducting WeBS (Wetland Bird Surveys) to monitor the numbers of non-breeding bird species that use the reserve. For each survey, there are 6 separate transects routes along which birds are recorded. These include; the LNR ('local nature reserve' - the wettest area of Seasalter), which has 2 transects within and Alberta (a small area of fields close to the coast). The land parcels known as Vikings and the Whitstable Bay Estate are areas that are currently only monitored by the RSPB with no current management influence and, finally; the Coastal transect from the Sportsman pub in Graveney to the Neptune pub in Whitstable. The coast is only monitored by the RSPB with no management control and all results on that particular transect being submitted to the BTO.

WeBS starts at Seasalter in September with highlights including 13 Gadwall on Vikings, a Peregrine Falcon on the LNR and 129 Ringed Plover along the coast.

In October, wader numbers began to rise with 84 Turnstone on the coast and 14 snipe recorded on the LNR along with our first Bearded tits! Redshank began to appear along the coast in November along with a small group of Snow bunting while a single Marsh Harrier continued its stay on the LNR. Curlew numbers were at their peak in December with a flock of 80 seen along the coast while Stonechat continued to make an appearance on the LNR. The real Christmas present this year was the appearance of a Hen harrier at Vikings.

The new year brought with it some fresh highlights. Along with a small group of Sanderling and a flock of 506 Dunlin along the coast, Meadow pipits were present on both the LNR (24) and Alberta (28).

February gave us vast numbers of lapwing along the coast (347) along with a group of 96 Golden Plover while Curlew and Teal moved to the LNR and both Buzzards and Ravens were spotted at Vikings. The final WeBS took place in March and most of the autumn migrants were leaving our shores for their breeding grounds further north. With that being said, Brent geese gathered in large flocks on the coast (372) and Oystercatchers were again present. The real indication that Spring had truly arrived was the sight and sound of the Cetti’s warbler returning to our ditches.

As spring arrived WeBS finished to make way for Breeding Bird Surveys (BBS) which helps us create records for which birds use Seasalter as a breeding ground during the spring, with especially close attention paid to target wet grassland species Lapwing and Redshank!

All photos courtesy of Dave Smith