Saturday, 24 November 2012

Saturday 24th. November 2012

Before getting absolutely soaked whilst hedgelaying today , I took advantage of yesterday's dryer weather , and headed off for the Isle of Sheppey .
Arriving at RSPB Elmley in still cloudy conditions , but with the hope of better to come , I started the track from the road to the car park . From the start , it was obvious that it was going to be hard going , with very few species other than Lapwing , Starling and Mute Swan being found . By the time I reached the car park , apart from the odd Corvid and Gull , just a small flock of Curlew , a few Meadow Pipits , and a flock of Linnet  was all that was added . Pied Wagtail in the car park and small numbers of Wigeon and Teal on the pool behind , and that was it . Until a male Marsh Harrier
appeared from nowhere and put everything up . Just Goldfinch and House Sparrows around the feeders in the orchard made my decision not to walk the mile or so to the hides , so I returned back down the track , finding nothing different , but added a female Marsh Harrier in the distance , in front of the new bridge . My next stop was Harty Ferry Road and the raptor viewpoint , which turned out to be just as quiet apart from a single Kestrel and a Grey Heron flushed from the roadside ditch . I decided to head down to the Ferry Inn , in the hope of finding something of interest . Along the lane I found a small covey of Red-legged Partridge and slowed , but at the same time a van wanted by , and
that flushed the group , but I managed a shot of some of them in the roadside field before they took flight for good . The odd Winter Thrush , mainly Fieldfares , flew out from the heavily ladened Hawthorn bushes as I passed , making themselves almost un-photographable , if there is such a
word , but a bit further down I found three , sitting , digesting their last foray onto the bushes . Apart from lots of Woodpigeon , the trip to the Inn and back to the raptor viewpoint was hardly exciting . Between the viewpoint and the corner at Capel Fleet , a dark raptor was seen approaching from the right , but , once again , I had a vehicle behind and needed a layby to let it pass . By the time I did so , the bird was heading into the distance and I had all the camera settings wrong , but am posting a very
bad shot of the Common Buzzard to show a very hearty breakfast has obviously been had . A look at the front at Leysdown , with the tide already well out , showed the usual good number of Oystercatcher , a few Curlew and mixed Gulls feeding . The track down towards Shellness has been patched up with road planings , but with all the recent rain , there is still plenty of standing water to negotiate to get to the car park at the end . Having reached the car park , very little had been seen ,
but in the bushes nearby , House Sparrows , Reed Buntings ( male pictured ) and Goldfinches , vied for the best perches after bathing in the plentiful puddles . The return trip was equally quiet , apart from several Meadow Pipits on the wires , Corvids on almost every fence post and another flock of
Linnets in the stubble fields . On the local football pitch , one of the Curlew decided to feed there rather than down on the mud , whilst down on the front , the local Pied Wagtails were hanging around
for any bits and pieces that might have been dropped by passers by . I next went to see if I could locate the small flock of Waxwings that were reported the day before around the creek at Lower Halstow , not too far from the new bridge over to Sheppey . Not only did I not find the Waxwings , I didn't even find Lower Halstow , mainly due to road closures , so I gave up and headed the short distance back to Elmley for a return visit before heading home . Unfortunately the track to the car park was even quieter than in the morning and with no cars parked , once again I did not walk down to the hides . Heading back down the track , a flock of small birds landed in the two bushes ,
halfway to the first gate , but flew off as I approached , that was all but one , who was prepared to pose in the afternoon sunshine , a winter plumage cock Linnet , showing a 'lark-like' rear toe , but he too flew off with the approach of a tractor and trailer full of cattle coming along the track . No more
than 20 metres further on , I was stopping again to photograph a very colourful Fox , just the other
side of the ditch . It took no notice of me or the camera , but , when a second tractor and trailer appeared , I had to move , and so did the Fox . My last shot , just before reaching the road , was a
Starling , looking very smart with the now low sun catching it's plumage .


Alan Pavey said...

You certainly gave it a good go Greenie, it sounded pretty quiet but it's a great place to go and there's always a few raptors about. The light on the Fox and Starling is great.

Warren Baker said...

Seems like this mild mushy weather is depressing the numbers of birds about Greenie, fingers crossed for an arctic blast, that may liven things up a bit!

ShySongbird said...

It looked like a pleasant visit Greenie although a shame you were unable to locate the Waxwings. You managed some very nice photos, I particularly liked the second one of the Fox, it certainly was very colourful and healthy looking. Lovely to see the Curlew too.

The hedge laying conditions sounded awful. We had heavy rain all last night and more to come, many local places are flooded but thankfully we live on the top of a hill. I hope you are not flooded there.