Southern England: Birds & History May 06—17, 2017

Posted by Andrew Whittaker


Andrew Whittaker

Andrew Whittaker, a senior member of the VENT staff, has led VENT tours since 1993 throughout Brazil, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Argentina, Costa Rica, Panama, Europe,...

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During an English spring at its best in Kent, the “Garden of England,” every day we experienced a marvelous mix of spectacular birding and delving back into the enthralling English history from Roman times to World War II. This magical combination is always a winner, resulting in a tremendously successful tour. Running this tour in spring ensured we would hit England at the most beautiful time of the year, with migration in full swing, perfect fresh breeding plumage, and woods full of song from birds displaying and nesting. We all marveled over the iconic English hedgerows ablaze with color; woodlands alive with vivid shades of greens and carpeted by a blaze of spectacular bluebells; and fiery red poppies and yellow primroses that lined the edges of dazzling yellow seed rape fields. Surrounded by an abundance of natural spring glory during the majority of our tour, we were also blessed with lovely sunny weather. One day we migrated across the famous English Channel where we made an exciting foray into coastal France, to Calais, enjoying many exciting birds rarely encountered in the UK.

Red Kite

Red Kite— Photo: Andrew Whittaker


During the entire tour we were based from a comfortable countryside hotel, the Mercure Maidstone, which was greatly appreciated and worked wonderfully, as usual. The hotel’s ample forested grounds rewarded us with many cool birds (before breakfast or after dinner) right on our doorstep including Green and Great Spotted woodpeckers, Long-tailed Tit, Spotted Flycatcher, Blackcap, Mistle Thrush, European Goldfinches galore, and Nuthatch too.

Spring migration, as we all know, is a truly wonderful time of the year with that magical expectation of never knowing what species one might find next. This year we managed a late straying first summer Iceland Gull at the patch at the famous Dungeness power station and observatory; also, sadly, we just missed out on a Hoopoe at Phil’s local village!

Read Andrew’s full report in his Field List.