Thursday, 1 September 2011

Thursday 1st. September 2011

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 .


Phil said...

It's a bit difficult to get out of the wind in that flat environment Greenie. That's one small bonus at New Hythe where some areas were well sheltered during my visit.
Strange to see the Swallows all on the ground like that, maybe they don't like the easterlies either!
Shame about getting all the way to the Ferry Inn only to find people with guns. Perhaps you should have gone in for a pint.

Warren Baker said...

A good photographic guide through your visit today Greenie, I like that Harrier shot going past the bush :-)