The journey along the track to the car park was almost like driving through a cemetery . Just one or two Lapwings , a long distance sighting of a Marsh Harrier , a fleeting glimpse of a Green Sandpiper , a few Meadow Pipits and a startled juvenile Grey Heron that lifted noisily out of a ditch was as good as it got . Three Swallows were hawking around the car park and in the fields behind , once again at distance , anything between 100/150 Curlew , driven on land by the full tide . With such a poor start , I decided not to walk down to the hides , and slowly returned back down the track . Not much difference , until a female Kestrel , aided by the wind , sped just in front of the car and hovered . Seeming to have sighted something , dropped lower .
eventually dropping onto the grass , and mantling the area with her wings . I expected her to fly off with her meal , but she had obviously missed her target , and looked quite bemused as to what had gone wrong . Disconsolate , she flew off to find another target .
As I approached a bend with a ditch , I could make out birds on the far bank of the ditch , but it wasn't till I got closer , that I could identify them as Grey Partridge . I approached as close as I could , then waited for them to come closer , which they did .Never stopping looking for food , they came over the bank and settled in the lee of the bank to preen and rest .
At least one of the party was a male , identified by the bold chestnut horseshoe on his belly . It was in the same area where I had a pair along the track 2/3 years ago .Whilst photographing the Grey Partridge , a bird flew through the viewfinder and came to rest at the top of the bank . The first of two Wheatears found within 100 metres of each other .The second was on a gate post on the next bend in the track .Just beyond the same bend was the closest Curlew seen , and on it's own .As I moved off from the Curlew , I put up three Skylarks , and managed to get one in flight .Almost back at the road , this Greylag Goose was taking a nap ,and one of very few Rabbits seen , was enjoying the sun , whilst keeping out of that wind .
I then made the usual trip to Capel Fleet , but if I thought it was quiet at Elmley , the Fleet beat it hands down . Not a single bird along the wires , a distant Marsh Harrier and Kestrel was it , all the way to the Ferry Boat Inn . There were a good few Little Egrets on the saltmarsh below the Inn and an occasional Corvid , but my hoped for Winter Thrushes on the berry laden hedges along the lanes , did not materialise . Approaching the Fleet on my return , a family of Mute Swans emerged from a reedbed and took off . I only managed to get a shot of two of the four juveniles . But whilst stooped on the bend , a flash of white rump landed on a fence post , not far in front of me . My third Wheatear of the day was followed by the fourth , amongst the Sheep as I climbed the hill away from the Fleet on my way home .