Saturday, 30 August 2014

Saturday 30th. August 2014

After the rain washed out Monday and Tuesday , a couple of hours in Willow Hide at Sevenoaks Reserve found the Kingfishers on good form , making regular visits to the two stick just out in front .
Shame the few sunny spells were interspersed with longer cloudy ones , and that the Kingfishers
seemed to choose the latter for their visits . Most interesting sight was a Sparrowhawk chasing two Kingfishers around the far end of Snipe Bog Lake . Also around were two Green Sandpipers who stayed well away in cover , apart from one fly by which John managed to get on camera .
Thursday started in similar vein weather-wise , but suddenly the skies opened up just after lunch , enough for me to head for the meadow below Biggin Hill Airport to see if the Clouded Yellows were still around . A surprising 14 species were recorded , many of which were very faded and damaged ,
which included the 3 male CYs that were recorded on the visit . Once again there was interest overhead , with three Common Buzzard enjoying the warmth and wind , two Sparrowhawk and a male Kestrel . But the best sighting was what looked like a family group of three Raven , two flying
together and the third some distance behind , 'cronking' continuously as the passed over . The habitat
would seem ideal for them , but they would have to learn to live in harmony with those Common Buzzards , which I know from visits to Old Lodge on Ashdown Forest is rather unlikely , but we can
hope . On the track back to the car , and out of the wind , a mating pair of Small White and a male
Brimstone , topping up on nectar from Black Knapweed .
Yesterday , I headed off for Elmley Reserve on the Isle of Sheppey , to hopefully see some migrants before the all headed South . I started the track to the car park full of expectation , but on arrival all I had seen were Coot , Little Grebe , Starling , Grey Heron and distant views of Marsh Harrier , not even a Lapwing or Redshank never mind a migrant . I did however find a Yellow Wagtail looking for
food on the edge of the car park , along with several juvenile Pied Wagtail , and a good number of
noisy juvenile Goldfinches , all clamouring for use of the one , almost dried out, puddle . The return
down the track was no more exciting , apart from a fleeting glimpse of a Brown Hare , just before it
disappeared into the game crop , and a Little Egret that flew in from the pools behind the farmhouse .
Over the Swale in the Oare area , darkened skies were dumping their contents , not a day to get caught out in the open , as more could be seen down wind . My next stop was Leysdown , where the tide was coming in , with lots of waders and gulls on the waterline . With binoculars , Godwit , Curlew and Oystercatcher could be seen , but too far for any shots . I watched a young family arrive , the kids full of excitement on getting to the beach , and starting to dig in the sand and play bat and ball . A look in the bush behind the pitch and putt hut , favoured by a migrating Wryneck , failed to produce , same as it failed for me last year , and a wooded area nearby had a juvenile Sparrowhawk , seen a couple of times , but continually calling . On the shore side , a group of Turnstone , still in
Summer plumage , turned into the wind , and many of the Oystercatcher started moving down the

beach towards Shellness ,a favoured roost for them , then , the heavens opened . The beach cleared in seconds , including the young family , all running for their cars . I carried on to the start of the Shellness track , but finding little , decided to head for the raptor mound at Capel Fleet . I looked for Wheatear at a couple of places where I had found them in previous years , but failed this time . The wind had got up quite a bit and it blew a flock of about 50 LBJs across the road in front of me . I couldn't get a positive ID , but many were likely to be Corn Bunting , being in the area where I have
seen them before . A couple of Marsh Harrier were searching the ditches for a meal , the male above always keeping a good distance , the female I thought was going to fly right over my head , but she
veered off early , denying the shot I was hoping for . With little else found , I decided to give Elmley a second chance , before heading off home . It was a case of 'deja vu' until reaching the final rise to
the car park , where I found a single Wheatear on the side of the track , which took no notice of me at all . It was later joined by a second and whilst looking at that bird with binoculars , sensed something moving across the track closer to me . It proved to be a Stoat , but , by the time I put down the binoculars and grabbed the camera , it had disappeared into the trackside vegetation . At the top of the rise to the car park , I could seen several dark birds , seemingly lying on the ground . As I approached , naturally they flew off , so I pulled over , turned off and waited . Eventually they
returned , and proved to be mainly Sand Martin , with a few juvenile Swallow . They seemed to be
dust-bathing , but the track is made up of road planings , the material removed when a new surface is put down , so wouldn't seem to contain much in the way of dust , but seemed to be happy with it . It's the closest I have ever got to the species , and must say it made my day . On my way back down the track , a second , or the same Stoat almost ran under the front wheels across in front of me , but fortunately I was only crawling along , and it safely made the other side , and another large flock of LBJs in the game crop , blown around by the strong wind and disappearing immediately they landed . As I passed the cattle , a flock of Starling lifted off , with an unusual individual amongst them . I kept an eye on it and after a while it came a bit closer , before once again flying away . It had white tail
feathers , a possible part albino ?  The same area produced another 5/6 Yellow Wagtail , including a bright male . I was seen off the property by a juvenile Grey Heron alongside the last ditch , no doubt
looking for the Marsh Frogs that I could hear croaking in the area . A day that started off poorly , but turned out to be most enjoyable in the end , especially the Sand Martins .
And finally , Carol has always wanted to get a Nuthatch on the garden feeders . Her wish has come true , with a regular visitor every day this week .


Warren Baker said...

Good post Greenie :-) I might have to try for those Kingfishers again soon, is a late moring best, or afternoon ?

Oh, and enjoy the Nuthatch ;-)

Mike H said...

Nice time out Greenie I too was disappointed with Elmley on my visit about a wek ago. Like Carol would love a Nuthatch on the garden feeders. Enjoy !

John Phillips said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Phillips said...

Great to see you Greenie at Sevenoaks Reserve... the Green sandpiper turned out OK.

Ken. said...

A lovely day out. It is always good seeing raptors, seeing 3 Ravens on your day our would have been special to me.
Your perservance waiting for a Kingfisher paid off, nice oictures of the male on the post that is in front of the hide.
I wouldn't swear to it but your Marsh Harrier shot of the female might be a juvenile bird. I cannot see any cream on its forewing.