An arranged trip to the Isle of Sheppey to see all the newly arrived migrants , on a sunny day , did not go quite to plan . What did go to plan was sharing the day in the company of Ken - Disabled Birder of Halling , and what enjoyable day it was , despite the migrants .
We started the day at RSPB Elmley , quite expecting to be dodging Yellow Wagtails and Wheatears all the way down the track . We did not see either species in our stay of about four and a half hours . As always , there were Lapwing along the track , their colours showing well in the sunshine . Redshank , Little Egret , plenty of Skylarks up singing , Meadow Pipits , including this one that posed up a tussock of grass. From the car park to the hides didn't produce that much apart fro a Marsh Harrier sighting , into the sun . We spent some time in the second hide , and were treated to plenty of Avocets , some trying to decide who owns which bit of grass , or returning after being put up by another Harrier , showing their vivid back markings . Or , just doing what Avocets do at this time of year . Also seen were large numbers of Shellducks , many of them arguing too and some doing their strange 'bobbing' motion , but these two just cruised by serenely . Ken did spot a Spotted Redshank , but it was well out of range for a shot , also three Common Buzzards , climbing on the thermals . The odd Ringed Plover , Kestrel , a pair of distant Med Gulls , also found by Ken , a good number of Mute Swans , but no migrants . On the way back down the track , a Skylark flew across in front and disappeared on the ground . Eventually we found it and managed a shot . Ken spotted a Little Grebe right alongside the track , but by the time I stopped and cameras were ready , it was gone under . It surfaced several times in different place , but I managed to guess right once , and caught it in a rather unusual position , that I can only describe as 'half submerged' .
The next stop was to be Capel Fleet , and once again we hoped for interest along the lane , but apart from more Harrier sightings and the odd Red-legged Partridge and Reed Bunting , but it was only a pair of male Pheasants , probably fighting over territory , near the entrance to Mocketts Farm . The saltings below the Ferry Boat Inn held nothing new , despite the lower tide . We decided to make Shellness the last stop of the day , to photograph the Kentish Plover that had been seen near the nudist beach . On the way , we added Small Tortoishell to our day list of butterflies , which already held large numbers of Peacocks , several Comma and a couple of White sp. , both moving far too fast to manage an ID , and a Linnet , on the wires where we were hoping to find Corn Buntings and newly arrived migrants .. For those who know it , the track to Shellness is just as bumpy as ever , and we were glad to reach the car park at the end . Still no Yellow Wagtails or Wheatears , but in the bushes , we did find a male Blackcap and a Chiffchaff/Willow Warbler , unsure as it did not call . Also there , was a male Reed Bunting and several House Sparrows , always good to see these days . If the Kentish Plover was there , a really powerful telescope would have been needed as we could make out Oystercatchers and Curlew down on the water line , but no chance of anything smaller .
All in all , not the day I had hoped for , but most enjoyable in some pleasant sunshine and some very good company .