One of the most pleasurable birding experiences in Kent is watching small waders around the coasts between Autumn and Spring, and one of the best places to do this is Foreness on the Isle of Thanet.
A high tide, Sanderlings, Ringed Plovers, Turnstones and Purple Sandpipers can be seen foraging on the sands and over seaweeds, more concerned about the next wave than the human activity on the nearby sea-wall.
On two sheltered beaches nearby, roosts of waders congregate to wait out the high tide.
About 160 Sanderlings, 100 Ringed Plovers and three Purple Sandpipers were counted at the Foreness site - and none this time at Fayreness. These birds have flown down from the tundra after the short breeding season; some may stay here but some will continue south to Africa, using these beaches as a staging post for refuelling. Some will fly 3000 miles in each direction, taking about seven weeks.
The Purple Sandpipers, however, are probably close to the end of their migration and may well stay on this beach for the winter - others should join them, as a group of about 20-30 is normal. Studies of migration indicate that those arriving in this part of Britain are likely to be from the Canadian breeding population. No surprise that these recent arrivals wanted to get their heads down.