Sunday, 2 November 2014

Sunday 2nd. November 2014

Today started really autumnal , with rain , wind and leaves starting to cover everywhere , a far cry from last Friday , when Summer was still around and I headed off to the Isle of Sheppey to make the most of it . Perfect conditions greeted me at Elmley NNR , just a shame that the birds didn't do the same . The entrance track was almost devoid of any sightings , apart from a distant Marsh Harrier , Corvid or flock of Starling . From the last cattle grid , past the wild seed crop which did produce a few Goldfinch , Reed Bunting and Linnet , and on a gate post the first time I reached for the camera
was for a Kestrel , still warming up in the sunshine . A movement way down the track beyond the
gate turned out to be the only Brown Hare seen during the visit . The car park held only a few House Sparrow and a pair of Pied Wagtail , and not even the LEOwls were seen in the orchard , though I learned later in the day that they had moved on earlier in the week , but at least 2 Red Admiral were still on the wing in the area . Disappointed , I made my way back down the track , finding the same or
another Kestrel in one of the of the only two bushes that are found , the area where the Stoat appeared last visit , but not this time . Another gate post provided a juvenile Common Buzzard , like the one
local last year , looking for a wormy breakfast , and sure enough , it did find a couple of 'tasty' morsels while I watched . As I moved on , I noticed a rabbit , sat within a few metres of where the
CB was perched . I can only think that the rabbit realised that , being a juvenile , it wasn't on the menu , yet . A couple of Grey Heron and a speeding Kingfisher along one of the ditches , a
motionless Common Snipe half hidden in the grass ,and I was back at the entrance again . My next stop was at Capel Fleet , where the road dog-legs left and looking right onto the Fleet , was
confronted by 200+ Coot , at a conservative estimate , some sort of convention I suppose , as no other waterfowl were seen at this end of the Fleet . A scan around found only Starlings along the wires , but just before moving on , was over-flown by a flock of c10 Bearded Tit , 'pinging' as they went . The raptor viewpoint failed to produce a single raptor , most unusual , but a look at the reedbed below the mound did produce a very vocal Cetti's Warbler that never showed a feather , a couple of Reed Buntings and a return of the 'pinging' , just three birds this time . They dropped into the Phragmites and disappeared and with the reedbed swaying in the wind , were difficult to follow . But eventually ,
a single male showed briefly enough to fire off a few shots , before the 'pinging' moved further away as they moved further along the ditch . Whist there , 2 Red Admiral , one Clouded Yellow and a Small Tortoiseshell were seen . The only other interest found was a small number of RLPartridge in the brassica crop as I made my way back and on to Leysdown , where I found the tide as far out as I think I have ever seen it . A reminder to check the tide tables in future . The only species still on the beach were a few common Gulls and a small flock of Redshank , down by the first houses on the way to Shellness . A scan over the grazing marshes inland failed to find the hoped for SEOwl , or anything else to be honest , but three Clouded Yellows along the seawall were nice to find . A look around the area surrounding Muswell Manor failed to turn anything up , so I decided to retrace my steps and return to the raptor viewpoint , in the hope of finding some more Bearded Tits . The car park was much busier than before , one being Graham , a fellow visitor to Sevenoaks Reserve , who had also come for the Bearded Tits , having read that 100+ were seen down on the ground , 'taking grit' from the track around the outside of the car park , the same as described on Autumnwatch this week . That must have been a sight to behold . As Graham and I caught up , another arrival turned out to be Terry , another enthusiast I meet on occasions at SR . With more eyes and ears searching , we were hopeful to pick up the BTs , but the only sightings were of a pair of Stonechat , the male showing
well on the top of the swaying Phragmites , but the female keeping further back in the reedbed , until
she flew forward and landed on the post and rail fence of the car park . A few Marsh Harriers were sighted in the distance , some frustratingly flying directly along the ditch towards the viewpoint , then veering off or turning back on themselves before getting into range . Just one juvenile came within a
reasonable distance , be it too veered off . Another raptor sighting , way over towards Muswell Manor , and seen through the swaying reedbed , turned out to be the best sighting of the day , when the white rump of a Ring-tailed Harrier was seen , flying in .a line from Shellness to Minster . I tried to get a shot , but the distance and the swaying reedbed didn't allow the AF to do it's work , and all I
finished up with was a blurry image , but it did show the white ring-tail . Whilst waiting and watching , something disturbed the Marsh Frogs , as the chorus started one end of the reedbed and slowly progressed for right to left , before petering out again . Our wait was rewarded with a single
male  BT 'pinging' and landing low down briefly in the reedbed to the left , giving little opportunity to
view never mind photograph , but a couple of images were managed . He didn't hang around though , moving further down the ditch to the right . The Stonechats continued to entertain , appearing and disappearing at will . At one point , two landed on a gate behind the reedbed and I fired off a few
shots . It wasn't until I processed those shots on the computer that one turned out to be a Whinchat . Before leaving , we had some good distant views of a pair of Kestrel playing tag on the large pile of straw bales beyond the mound . Another Red Admiral and Clouded Yellow completed an enjoyable visit in good company and in exceptional weather .
And finally , a couple of sightings from the garden . Whilst helping Carol with the Autumn clear-up , two moths were disturbed , photographed on the Callicarpa berries which will hopefully attract Blackcaps when fully ripe , and returned to where found . They turned out to be The Herald , a
species that over-winters as an adult and is one of the last species seen in the year as well as being one of the first seen , and a scruffy RRParakeet that was gorging on Laburnum seeds in my
neighbour's garden .

1 comment:

Alan Pavey said...

I do enjoy Sheppey, a nice account as always and still a few butterflies around, nice Beardie shots and love the Snipe.