With hopes of better weather , I set off early to visit RSPB Elmley , managed to avoid the closed motorway half way up Wrotham Hill , but ran out of the blue sky and sunshine and into cloud on my arrival , but worse was the return of the strong wind , blowing in from the East . With high water about midday , I decided to do the track from the road to the car park and return to the road , before heading for Capel Fleet . Things looked very quiet as I started the track , apart from a large flock of Starlings and a few Rooks feeding amongst the grass . I noticed more birds landing and then moving further along the track , and assumed that they were Starlings too , but as I got closer , I realised that they were Swallows . Apart from when collecting mud for their nests , I haven't often seen them on the ground and never in numbers . A single Meadow Pipit landed close by , and stopped for a few seconds before heading off again . All the scrapes along the track are dry , but the main ditches contain water , which was where I caught these two cygnets having a wash and brush up . A couple of Lapwing , and in the distance , two Marsh Harriers , dark looking birds , probably juveniles . As I arrived at the car park , a tractor and mover were working close by and few birds were seen , but then two juvenile Pied and this Yellow Wagtail flew in , and the latter perched on the fenceline . I checked the Swallow nest in the toilets , it was empty as expected , then made my way back down the track again . Even less was seen on the way back to the road , the Starlings, Rooks and Swallows having moved on . I did see at distance a Marsh Harrier working a trackside ditch and pulled over and stopped hoping that it would come closer , but as the female came past the bush , she spotted the car , and was gone . Capel Fleet proved even quieter , but there were several large lorries working in the area . A blob in a cut cereal field caught my eye , and it turned out to be the only Brown Hare seen today . In the distance , I saw a bird of prey working the roadside hedge and although it was gone by the time I arrived , I checked the bottom of the hedge as I drove by and found these two Red-legged Partridges , together with several more , keeping well under cover . I checked the wires all along the road as I usually do , but once again failed to find anything more than Starlings . When I arrived at the Ferry Boat Inn , it looked as if there was a shoot about to start , with 4x4s all over the place , so I turned around and headed back . A male Kestrel was spotted hovering just in a field , but he too didn't hang about .
Arriving back at Elmley , just before high water , the track produced next to nothing . I parked and made my way to the hides , a decent distance . During the walk the only birds I saw were 3 Mallard and a Green Woodpecker . On arrival at the rise just before Wellmarsh Hide , I heard , and could see that the scrape in front of the hide was dry and a ranger was out on the scrape brush-cutting the vegetation on what would have been the islands . I headed for the other hides , finding a notice that Swale Hide was shut for repair , so I headed for South Swale Hide . Opening up a window on arrival , lots of Shell Duck and Avocets , right over the very back , and the only birds in binocular range being a juvenile Shell Duck and a Black-headed Gull having a doze . The only highlights being another female MH sighting and a distant Wheatear on a post as I left the hide . As I made my way back towards Wellmarsh Hide , a tight flock of small waders came low over the sea wall and appeared to drop in , in front of the hide . I went for a look and found 30+ Ringed Plover on the dry scrape and managed to get 26 of them in this shot . The walk back to the car park was better , finding two Little Grebe , 10+ Mallard and a couple of female Reed Buntings . Almost at the car park , a Little Egret lifted from a small pond and circled overhead , before heading for The Swale . The ride down the track was again uneventful , only finding the Mute Swan family again .