Saturday, 22 February 2014

Saturday 22nd. February 2014

Was glad to get out in sunshine yesterday , although my chosen area , the Isle of Sheppey ,was moderated  somewhat by a stiff , very cool wind . Elmley Reserve was my first stop , and along the
track , plenty of Lapwing were displaying both on the ground and in the air . Looking towards the bridge , a Buzzard was looking for a rabbit breakfast , but soon drifted off . Just 2 Marsh Harrier
sightings , both at distance . Skylarks were singing all the way , but by far the most numerous species
were the Starling , so many it would be impossible to estimate . Flocks would appear and descend on a small area . Above is just one small section of this flock .They would start feeding , then like an army of ants start moving forwards , by means of the ones at the back overflying the others , and
landing just in front . The birds in flight were just that in the shot above , as the noisy carpet of birds moved forward . 5+ Little Egrets making the most of the well filled hollows on either side of the
track , this individual having just got it's breakfast , but the new larger scrapes held very little . Not a sign of a Hare , which I was hoping for either to or from the car park . The scrape behind the toilets was almost empty , so I decided to turn around and head for Leysdown . On the way back down the
track , one of the Skylarks dropped in , just in front of the car , but two seconds later was gone . I
don't remember seeing a Rook at Elmley before , but there was a singleton there today . En route , I decided to have a look at Capel Fleet and the raptor viewpoint , bad mistake as several tractor and trailers were ferrying manure past the viewpoint then returning for more , little wonder that not much was seen . I did have another MH sighting , and whilst watching was aware of something moving on the track behind . It turned out to be two Red-legged Partridge and came within 5 metres of the car , but as they walked past , all I could see was their legs and bottom half of their bodies , the rest beind one of the fence rails , I felt gutted , as all my shots are at distance , and usual from the back as they scamper away . With nothing else about , I started the car and headed out , turning the corner I see one of the birds standing out in the open on the flooded track . Expecting it to disappear I stopped and
reached for the camera , and it was still there . And there it stayed for a couple of minutes , not
moving much , but at least I've got e few shots of the species , head-on now . I finally made it to Leysdown with the tide well on the way in . Gulls were the main species , with many of the Black-
headed already living up to their name , like this one trying to stay on the sea wall in the wind . Just a handful of Brent Geese flying well out were all that were seen . Several Oystercatchers , busily

feeding as were the Sanderling with the first one , and another was escorting a Turnstone . Although named after one crustacean , the Oystercatchers seemed to be dining on another , the humble Winkle , which I noticed they always took to water to 'winkle' out their meal . I got halfway down the
Shellness track to find repairs being done , so turned back , finding several Pied Wagtails looking for left over lunch crumbs . Then the noisiest part of the day . I could see a large number of gulls almost the end of the parking area , and on the ground there seemed to be a large pile of chips and bread and
probably other things as well . Three species were attracted and getting home found I had a shot of
all three in flight in the same frame , Herring ( fingers crossed ) , Common and lots of Black-headed .
Three juvenile Herring Gulls ,( fingers crossed ) were the bullies of the bunch , fighting the other
gulls both in the air and when they landed , chasing off as many of the other birds to gorge
themselves . It was strange to see so many birds flying around with chips etc in their bills .Leaving Leysdown , I had a second quick look along Harty Ferry Road , but still busy with tractors , but did
find a few Corn Buntings , most were in the lea of the wind but the odd one braved it . The decision
to leave was made for me when this shower cloud loomed into the picture .
I started this last night , did a bit before leaving for hedgelaying , for once in great conditions , and just finished it on my return .


Countryside Tales said...

Fantastic shots. The Red-Legged Partridge is great.

Warren Baker said...

Nice RLP shots Greenie, I do like these birds, even though they are mostly introduced.

Like to have a chance to get some close Gull shots, they dont often come very close on my patch :-)

PS how much do you want for the Lens ?