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Saturday, 7 July 2012

Elmley RSPB

July 6th

As you have probably gathered I am trying to make the most of my time off work by visiting old haunts, I am back to work on Monday so my excursions will very likely decrease. I am now at the ripe old age of 55 and a Steel fixer by trade, all my family, uncles and  cousins are all ‘ fixers’ going right back to my grandad and his brothers. It is hard graft on the body but it also keeps you relatively fit and at a decent weight. Since stopping I have piled on the pounds, I need to go back to decrease my ever expanding waistline.
This morning I was out by 5.30a.m and heading for Dungeness given the weather, on a whim I diverted to Elmley as I was not sure I would have been able to get in the sea watching hide. The new plan was to walk out to one of the hides( I know getting soaked in the process) and watch in the dry as the rain was forecast all morning, they weren’t wrong either.
Driving down the entrance track produced a nice surprise in a calling Quail, as usual trying to see it was another matter, I stayed for about 20 minutes but not surprisingly it never showed. I understand from others that it has been present for a while.

A soaking wet male Yellow Wagtail

The walk out to the hide was still as long as I remember, about a mile, so I headed firstly for the nearest hide, Wellmarsh.
Water levels were really high with no mud showing and the only waders that were managing to feed were Avocet and Black Tailed Godwit.Pochard, Shoveler and Tufted Ducks were present and looking over I could see some waders dropping in so I moved on.
I decided to stay in South Fleet Hide for most of the morning and when the rain lightened up, I viewed the Swale once from where the old hide use to be, keeping myself  low with just my head and scope showing.

Male Marsh Harrier showing a hint of a white rump

Summing up below are totals from the drive/ walk out, in front of South Fleet Hide and the Swale.

Drive/Walk out

Yellow Wagtail – 5 singing males
Mediterranean Gull – 1 adult overhead calling.
Bearded Tit – 1 calling and seen briefly
Green Sandpiper – 1 flushed by Marsh Harrier
Marsh Harrier – a minimum of 6 birds seen
Corn Bunting – 2 calling
Little Egrets – 2 together in dykes

South Fleet Hide

Black Tailed Godwit – 110 – initially 50 then joined by another group 0f 60ish as high tide moved them on from the Swale.
Greenshank – 1
Green Sandpiper – 2 together
Redshank – at high tide around 150 dotted round the scrape
Avocet – 90 came over to roost
Common Tern – as with Black Headed Gulls good numbers back and forth
Ringed Plover – 2 one displaying
Curlew – 2
Common Buzzard – 1 sitting on fence post

The Swale

Dunlin – 1
Grey Plover – 38
Mediterranean Gull – 3 adults
Spotted Redshank – 3 two together and a single
Wood Sandpiper – 1 feeding on its own
Sandwich Tern – 2 feeding together on rising tide
Curlew – numerous
Bar Tailed Godwit – 1 a single seen

Very distant Spotted Redshanks

The Wood Sandpiper was a little way out and I must admit to it getting me head scratching for a little while, not used to seeing them out feeding on the mud like a ‘winter’ wader.I usually see them on freshwater pools at Rainham, even at Rainham I have never seen them on the Thames mud. I suspect that with the high water levels on Elmley this was possibly the only mud available.
On the animal front Hares seemed to be everywhere and there were at least 4 sightings of Stoat, the Black Headed Gulls soon told you where these were.
On the walk down I came across a very pale Bunting which I think is a partially leucistic Reed, see photos below, photos are none too clever I am afraid due to the good old english weather.
A rather wet and miserable morning but how can you complain when you get to see all these goodies.

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