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Birdwatching

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Birds Galore!
The Ramsgate coast is an internationally important destination for wetland birds, making birdwatching a wonderful experience here all year round.

With some of the best examples of coastal wildlife habitats in the South East, the coast provides rich foraging and a temporary home for thousands of migratory and wintering wetland birds. These birds may travel thousands of miles to take advantage of our comparatively benign winter climate. Typical examples include Brent Goose from Siberia, Purple Sandpiper from Norway, Knot from Greenland, Turnstone from Canada and Sanderling from Iceland.

Sandwich & Pegwell Bay National Nature Reserve is a wetland haven for birds, and a must see. In this peaceful and tranquil reserve, you can find more habitats here than anywhere else in the South East. A birdwatcher’s paradise! Inter-tidal mudflats, saltmarsh, shingle beach, sand dunes, ancient dune pastures, coastal scrubland and chalk cliffs are home to dozens of rare species of plants and wetland birds. The reserve is of international importance for its waders and wildfowl, best seen over winter or during the spring and autumn migrations. Bird hides are available for convenience, along with toilets, car park and mobile café. Birdwatching in style!

Ramsgate Harbour
A walk around the Royal Harbour and Marina at Ramsgate is a great introduction to the area’s coastal birds. The cliffs around the Harbour are also home to nesting shags and overwintering kingfishers as filmed for the finale of the BBC's Winterwatch 2018.

Monkton Nature Reserve constitutes 16 acres of a reclaimed chalk quarry and contains important habitats for birds. There are over 350 species of flowering plants here and the reserve is home to the first artificial bat cave constructed in the UK. The Thanet Observatory is also a feature of the reserve.

Guided bird walks
Have you ever wanted to discover more about the local birdlife but don’t know where to start? Discover the varied birdlife of this dramatic coastline under the guidance of expert local birder Tony Swandale and Keith Ross.

Wildlife filmmaker and birdwatcher Keith runs guided Kingfisher walks in Ramsgate Harbour from September to March, after which these overwintering birds leave to return to the rivers to breed. Keith runs the walks on any date or time to suit. £10 per person (Max 4 - Min 2 people. Solo tour £20). Bring your binoculars. Contact Keith on keithross1@hotmail.com or via Twitter @ramsgatebirds to book.

You can also join Keith on a six mile Nature Walk from Ramsgate Westcliff to Pegwell Bay Nature Reserve. The walk runs from May till September with the aim of seeing a wide variety of wildlife including the world's fastest bird the Peregrine Falcon, migrating Cuckoo & Nightingale and views of basking Common Seals & waders in the Bay. Also expect to see Lizard, Butterfly and Dragonfly. Like any nature walk nothing is guaranteed and you never know what species you might get the chance to see. If you are very lucky you might spot something rarer. Perhaps a Weasel or Grass snake or even a Red Kite or Osprey. All have been seen in the area.

The walk costs £30 per person and will start at the Boating Pond on Ramsgate Westcliff continuing through Pegwell village along the cliff top to Pegwell National Nature Reserve. The walk is about 6 miles and will last most of the day so bring a pack lunch & water. Wear suitable clothing and footwear. Bring Binoculars if you can. To book a walk on a day of your choice contact Keith by email on keithross1@hotmail.com

Tony served as Kent Wildlife Trust’s warden at Sandwich & Pegwell Bay National Nature Reserve and at Oare Marshes. These guided bird walks are open to all and are especially suitable for beginners to help identify birds and learn how to use binoculars, field guides and other birding equipment.

Tony's guided bird walks take place at both Sandwich & Pegwell Bay NNR and around Ramsgate Harbour. Pre-booking is essential. To find out more about these walks, and to book, click here.