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The Medway to see bird spectacular   - Sunday, February 10, 2008


Europe's largest conservation charity, the RSPB, is inviting Kent families to witness a stunning bird spectacle in the Medway Estuary next week.

Every winter, thousands of avocets, dunlins, teal and wigeons flock to the Medway – swimming in the waters, feeding on the mudflats, and flying in the skies overhead.

This free event, a new edition to the charity's Aren't birds brilliant! (Abb!) programme, makes the most of this awesome display, with a special watch point on a scenic peninsular in Riverside Country Park near Gillingham.

The spot, intriguingly known as Horrid Hill, stretches right into the estuary, offering sweeping, 360-degree views of the water. Despite its name, the hill is one of the most beautiful places in the North Kent Marshes, and lends itself perfectly to bird watching.

Organiser David James, of RSPB North Kent, said: 'Watching two or three thousand dunlin flying across the water as one big cloud is absolutely spectacular. As they turn, they flash light and dark like a rippling shoal of fish. It's an amazing sight.'

Mr James added: 'Filling half term can be difficult, so it's great for us to be able to offer something a bit different from the norm. Not only will it entertain the kids, it's a brilliant thing for adults to experience too. It really is a pleasure to watch so many birds in such a beautiful location.'

RSPB, and Medway Council ranger teams will be on hand during the week to answer any wildlife queries. Special trays will also show up-close what the birds eat – a feast of shrimps, worms, and crustaceans – perfect for creepy crawly fans!

The RSPB runs a series of Abb! events throughout the year to show people the wonderful wildlife around them. They feature inspiring wildlife in beautiful habitats, two things the charity believes passionately in conserving.

Despite the impressive flocks of waders and wildfowl across North Kent Marshes, many are now amber listed as species of conservation concern. This means numbers have declined by at least 25 per cent over the past 25 years or their habitats are scare or under threat.

The Medway Abb! runs February 16 to 24, from 10 am to 4 pm. For more information call 01634 222480 or visit northkentmarshes@rspb.org.uk

Medway Council is partners in this Abb!, kindly giving the RSPB permission to use Horrid Hill as its watch point.