Friday, 22 January 2016

Friday 22nd. January 2016

A catch up on a couple of outings , for a change this winter , in sunshine .
The first was supposed to be straight to the Isle of Sheppey , but found the A249 completely shut at the M2 . The roundabout was completely grid locked , but the slip road onto the M2 was running , so made a split moment decision and headed for Oare Marshes . With no other hitches , I arrived to a cold , windy Oare , but there was some milky sunshine , which made anything on the East Flood
almost a silhouette , like these two drake Pintail as they dabbled for their breakfast . The other side
of the road provided better opportunity , even though only Teal were on show . The far end of the road near the car park was flooded , as was the surrounding grass areas , but it did provide feeding
opportunities for this Black-tailed Godwit , along with a few Redshank . Along the sea wall , amongst the swaying phragmites , the ' pinging ' of Bearded Tit was heard , but not seen . Almost at the sea
wall hide , a female Stonechat bounced along infront of me for a short while . On the Swale , the tide was well out and any birds were just dots on the strand line . Beyond the hide , the track resembled ' The Somme ' , so I about turned and retraced my steps , finding a group of about a dozen Avocet ,
feeding and constantly on the move out on the mudflats . The BTGodwit had moved on when I got
back , to be replaced by a small flock of Wigeon . With little else found , I made a stop at the track to the East Hide , searching the ditch for a Penduline Tit , which wasn't forthcoming , having seen one
there a couple of years ago . But I did find a female Reed Bunting , that was only too happy to pose .
Leaving , I decided to retry to get to Sheppey via Sittingbourne , and for once luck was on my side and I managed to get there without much hassle . At Elmley , the track looked great with plenty of

water in the ditches , but the sightings were confined to Starling , Lapwing , Redshank , Mute Swan , Grey Heron and a very distant male Marsh Harrier . On the return , a Brown Hare showed momentarily in the seed crop , and although I stayed for a while , it didn't re-appear . Almost at the
entrance , a raucous Rook announced my departure , and even the Little Owls kept out of sight . Heading for Capel Fleet , I changed tack , deciding to try for the Shorelark on Minster beach . I found the shingle ridge easily enough , then slowly drove along the top , looking for the tiny bird as I did so . I was almost at the far end , when I saw two people looking down from the top of the ridge with binoculars . They said they were watching the bird , but in the shade and amongst the shingle , I
couldn't . Then , a small movement and there it was , less than 5 metres away . It spent it's time like a wind-up toy , constantly on the move looking for food , always in the shade , but after ten minutes or
so , it moved into the sunlight and then onto the top of a gravel ridge , and posed . Shortly afterwards , it flew to the strand line and out of view . With no sign of it returning I left , heading for Shellness , whre one of the birders had had views of the Richard's Pipit during the morning . Having ' rocked and rolled ' down the track to the car park , I made my way along the sea wall towards the hide , seeing almost nothing along the way . Mind you , the sun was sinking and I was walking into it which didn't help . 3/4 of the way to the hide I met another birder who was looking at a distant Hooded Crow , and
I mean distant . I took a record shot and with maximum cropping it still doesn't look convincing , but through the other birder's scope , it showed much better . With the light fading , we made our way back to the car park , both searching for the Pipit . With the car park in sight , we had just got a distant sighting of the bird , when we noticed a wildfowler coming towards us and more importantly , towards the bird . Just before the bird flew from the long grass at the bottom of the wall , I got a
record shot , heavily cropped again , for what it's worth . The fillings took another battering on the return along the track and on reaching the sea wall at Leysdown , found several Turnstone out on the
road , battling with the gulls for a few scraps that had been thrown down . One of the gulls involved
was this winter plumaged Herring Gull .
My other trip , before ' the return of the rain ' , started at Pett Level , hoping to see the Glossy Ibis that had been showing well along the roadside . Had , being the word , as it was not seen whilst I was there , and has only showed sporadically since . Some compensation though came in the form of
about 25 White-fronted Goose that were in the fields beyond the roadside pool . The Ibis was
probably doing the same as this pair of Shellduck . From there , I made my way to Scotney Pits between Camber and Lydd , finding things quiet apart from the Barnacle Goose flock near the double

bends , and amongst them , a few Emperor Goose type birds . Moving on to Dungeness RSPB , a check on the feeders at the farmhouse failed to find any Tree Sparrows on the feeders and a similar failure to spot the LEOwls in the willows behind the dipping pond . Mind you , nobody I spoke to had seen them . With what looked like a volunteers fire behind the hide by the car park , the large numbers of duck , mostly Shoveler , Tufted , Wigeon and Mallard , were dozing in the sun , midway or further out at the other end of Burroughs Pit . From Scott Hide , a female Goldeneye was the only
bird close enough to photograph , and that was only between dives . Not a sign of a Smew , Great White Egret or Bittern . Across at ARC car park , I had just started up the track to the hide , when I fortunately met a birder coming back and asked if it was worth the effort . He replied that there was absolutely nothing outside the hide , everything was over the other side / end of the pit . With that , I returned to the car and headed for the beach for yet another attempt to see the Caspian  Gull which has always evaded me on previous visits , or even the Glaucous  Gull would have been good . Plenty
of gulls were seen , especially at ' The Patch ' , the warm water outlet from the power station , both birds could well have been amongst them . With the day running out , I decided to call in on the Purple Sandpipers at Hythe on my way home . I checked out both rock groynes , failing to find a single bird . It could well have been because several people were sitting on each groyne , enjoying the sunshine . Giving up , I headed home , but it was nice to be out and about in that sunshine .


Phil said...

Another action packed log Greenie.
Well done getting the Shorelark, super pics of it too. Hope to get to see it myself soon if it hangs around.

Ken. said...

very interestingly read and some good birds seen.