Thursday, 14 November 2013

Thursday 14th. November 2013

Despite having jobs to do around the house and garden , the sunshine and blue skies yesterday were enough to leave them for another day and head off for Elmley Reserve on the Isle of Sheppey . As I started down the track , ice on the ditches and scrapes was just starting to give up it's hold as the warmth of the sun could begin to be felt . A pair of Mute Swan and a juvenile were helping the
process in the first ditch and nearby a pair of Skylark were busily searching for their breakfast . A group of Lapwing , still huddled together , a distant Marsh Harrier , the first of several seen on the
day , a couple of distant Little Egret and a Grey Heron getting a better view of the area , were all that was seen until I approached the two bends before the car park . From a distance I could see a large bird on the fence post at the second bend , and hoping for a raptor , slowly moved closer . But the
raptor turned out to be a cock Pheasant , which held it's ground till I was quite close . The belt of sunflowers , now gone to seed and general weeds along the right hand side of the track towards the car park was holding a good mix of small birds , avidly feeding . They included Goldfinch ,
Chaffinch , Reed Bunting , Yellowhammer and Greenfinch , and probably a couple more unseen species too . Arriving at the car park with just Starlings , House Sparrows and Pied Wagtails about , a look out from the back of the toilet block found the scrape dominated by Teal , a single Lt.Egret and
a few BTGodwit , still to rouse from their slumber . In the nearby Oaks , one of the Barn Owls was
still in similar mode . Having seen that the tide was full as I crossed the bridge onto the island , I decided to return down the track and check out Leysdown and Shellness before the falling tide reduced any birds to mere specks at the waters edge . On the way back down the track , I did manage
a quick couple of shots of a female Marsh Harrier , when she settled briefly on a gate post , a single
Reed Bunting in one of the few trees by the track side , and , although a common bird , couldn't resist
snapping a Lapwing , especially as I was better positioned for the sun . Further down the track ,
another Marsh Harrier sighting , this time a male . The front at Leysdown towards the Shellness track only held the usual BHGulls , so I headed down the rough track , hoping for a SEOwl or even a RLBuzzard . Unfortunately my hopes were not fulfilled as just Corvids and Gulls were seen along it's length . Reaching the car park at the end , mine was the only car there , so I knew there wasn't a rarity
about . On the beach in front of the hamlet in warm conditions , just a few Turnstones feeding amongst the outgoing tide . As I made my way towards the end of the hamlet , good numbers of Oystercatchers were flying noisily right to left along the beach , no doubt heading to their feeding
grounds that were becoming available . Some came past in small groups , some in long drawn out
groups . By the time I got to the point and looked right towards the mouth of The Swale , I could see a large roost of the birds on the shingle beach in the distance , and the groups leaving the roost at regular intervals . Difficult to identify species on the water line there because of the distance , but mainly because the low sun was directly behind , but did pick out just two Brent Geese . No hoped for SEOwl over the saltings , just Curlew , Gulls and two more Lt.Egrets . As I returned on the
saltings side of the hamlet , a Pipit flew up and perched on a post . It was bulkier and darker than a Meadow , and my thoughts at the time were for Water , but the lack of the prominent eyebrow leaves me unsure . The return along the rough track was uneventful , but a look around the Grey Barn area
produced a very noisy House Sparrow colony , which is always nice to hear . From Leysdown I made my way to Capel Fleet and Harty Ferry . A couple of long distance Marsh Harrier sightings and lots of Starlings but not much else until a Green Sandpiper flew out of the recently cleared roadside ditch , just before the Raptor Viewpoint . About 12/15 Red-legged Partridge scurried away as I passed one field gate on the way down to the Ferryboat Inn , and slipway beyond produced a large number of Shellduck in the distance to the left , a few Redshank and a couple of Curlew , the
latter departing low over the water , whilst still at distance under an already milky looking sun , and a small flock of Dunlin , constantly on the move near the water's edge . As I returned to the Inn , a juvenile Common Buzzard , reminding me very much of the one that over-wintered locally last year ,
sat on a distant fence post , whilst rabbits ran around in the field in front . I remember the only food that the local one was interested in last Winter , was worms , perhaps this one was the same . Heading away from the Inn , a male Kestrel played 'catch-me-if-you-can' , flying from one telegraph post to the next , just as I poked the camera out of the window . Eventually , I did manage to get a couple of
shots , surprising him as I slowly rounded a bend . A few more Reed , but no Corn Buntings on the wires on the way back to the Fleet , but another couple of Marsh Harrier sightings and a female
Kestrel did show up in the fading sunlight and cooling temperature . Just after cresting Capel hill I spotted a bird on top of a telegraph pole , which through binoculars turned out to be a Little Owl . I approached slowly with camera ready , and as I stopped , it flew off . I parked up in a nearby field entrance for 10 minutes , but it didn't return to the post .
Two unusual sightings , both at Harty , a Migrant Hawker and a butterfly , probably a Peacock but not sure as it flew right out of the sun and disappeared into a hedge .


Phil said...

Nice post Greenie. Sounds and looks like a nice day. Had a Migrant Hawker, a Common Darter and two Red Admirals myself at Hemstead Forest yesterday.

Warren Baker said...

Brilliant day out by the sounds of it Greenie, and the camera was kept very busy too by the looks of it. Some very nice photo's today ;-)

Derek Faulkner said...

The Yellowhammer at Elmley was an interesting sighting, the first I've heard of being seen on Sheppey for many years. The last small colony used to be on Eastchurch cliffs over ten years ago.

Alan Pavey said...

Great post Greenie, you've made me want to get there again before christmas, it is a great place.

Mike H said...

Lovely account of your day out Greenie. Like Alan I will revisit soon looking for SEO and Whitefronted geese.