Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Monday 24th. October 2011

Firstly , many thanks to Ken / Focusing On Wildlife for identifying the aircraft on the last post . It is a Noorduyn AT-16 Harvard - 11B . Cheers Ken .
As I set off yesterday morning , still not sure exactly where I was heading , little did I know that it would result in a 55 species day , including 9 birds of prey . RSPB Elmley , on the Isle of Sheppey was my first port of call , but once again the track across to the car park was disappointing . Apart from the main ditches , all the scrapes and smaller channels were
bone dry , and although the sun was shining , a lazy wind was blowing across the site . A few
Lapwing were seen , and even a couple of pairs displaying , and the Skylarks were in the same
frame of mind , with many males hanging on that strong wind and singing their hearts out , when not chasing each other around . I did have a couple of sightings of Marsh Harrier , but they were very distant on the edge of the reserve . By the time I got to the car cark with both windows down , my hands were frozen . I made the decision not to go down to the hides , as the walk down the track would probably be as unproductive as coming in . From the car park I got a distant Common
Buzzard , right into the sun , and on the return to the entrance , found a single Whimbrel , busily
searching through cow pats for it's breakfast . I just missed getting a shot of a Kestrel as it dropped
onto it's prey , but did manage to get one of it manteling whatever it was that it had caught . The only

other interest found were a small flock of Stock Doves and a Rook that was copying the Whimbrel . Disappointed at the morning so far , I headed to Capel Fleet and the Raptor Viewing point , only to be disappointed again with the lack of birds . Eventually , I pulled off the road and sat hoping that something would happen . Another car pulled in behind me , probably hoping that I had found something , then another alonside that . This driver got out and spoke to the driver , then came to my window . 'Birdwatching ?' . Strange question as I had binoculars around my neck , but answered 'Yes' anyway . He then told me of a Rough-legged Buzzard that he had just been watching at Shellness . He explained where , I thanked him , and I arrived at the end of the Shellness track shortly afterwards . There were a few birders up on the sea wall , and they said that the bird had been showng well at distance , but hadn't been seen for a short time . Typical I thought . Then a call of 'it's up again' , and through binoculars I could make out a light coloured bird hovering in the distance , but one birder offered me a look through his scope , which was much better . Soon after it went to ground again , so I decided to walk along the sea wall to what I thought would be the closest point to where it was showing . Four other birders were already there , and fortunately it was possible to get out of the worst of the wind just down the bank a bit . Whilst waiting for the RLB to reappear , we were treated to a Peregrine and one possibly two Merlins , all I must add at distance . Also in the air ,
were several Kestrels , like this one which made a close pass . The RLB did show again , in short spells , and even though I thought I had shortened the distance between , it was still a long way
away , and just a few bad record shots were taken , but they do show the lightness of the bird , and
in particular the almost white leading edge of the wings . Watching it , the most remarkable thing was it's ability to hover , surprisingly with much more finess that the rapid wing beats of a Kestrel , it's low wing beats keeping it's larger frame in perfect position . Eventually it appeared to have caught something , only to be immediately mugged by a couple of the local Corvids . After that it went to ground for a considerable time . During that time , in an even more distant field , we watched a female ringtail Hen Harrier , searching the rough areas and ditches for a meal . By the time I walked back along the seawall and had a look at the beach , the tide was well out and heading further . Lots of Oystercatchers could be seen down on the water line along with several Gull species and a few Little Egrets . Closer in , I did manage to get a shot of two Sanderling , one still in Summer plumage
on the left , the other , just about to leave , already in it's Winter plumage , and on the right a Turnstone . By now , mid afternoon , the light was starting to get poor , with a thin veil of cloud coming over and the wind getting even cooler . Whilst chatting to another birder by the houses , the 8th. bird of prey almost passed overhead undetected , but a silhouette shot , almost into the milky
sun , just about made a record shot of the only Short-eared Owl to be seen today , although several had been seen in the area on pevious days . That birder also mentioned a site for Bearded Tits , so I gave that a try on my way home . As it happens , the path to the Bearded Tit site ran down the other side of where the RLB was showing earlier . On the way down the path I did find a late Wheatear .
Given their liking for high spots , it was open to the wind blowing across the grazing marshes , and didn't make the best of photo opportunities . I had a look for the Bearded Tits , but the reedbeds were so noisy with the strengthening wind , that it proved an impossible task . They did provide the last bird of prey of the day though , when a Sparrowhawk made a sorti along the vegetation , probably hoping that it's tea might be flushed . With the temperature dropping , I made my way back to the car , thinking back to a couple of Red Admirals I had seen earlier , desperately try to get back down South , straight into the strong SEasterly wind . I did get a last glimpse of the RLB , which seemed to be hunting further over towards where we sat in the lee of the sea wall , but that's birding I suppose .
And finally , I hope my brother John had a good birthday , another big one coming up next year !

3 comments:

Alan Pavey said...

Nice one Greenie, I had heard the RLB had been seen. It sounds like it would have been my perfect day, 9 birds of prey, great! Shame the water levels are low though.

Derek Faulkner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
elcamperoinquieto.com said...

VERY NICE BIRWATCHING DAIRY..WITH GOOD INFORMATION AND PRECISE PICS.....
BYE!