My walk this week took me to Elmley with three of the usual team of five in attendance. On the way down from the main road we spotted very little until we passed the RSPB office when there were lapwing, meadow pipit, little grebe and mute swan to be seen.
At the Wellmarsh Hide we were met with an arid cracked scrape with not a bird in sight the water having been drained to eradicate algae. As we scanned, a family of whinchat appeared on the predator fencing. There was also a kestrel and marsh harrier hunting in the distance and we spotted several avocet on a pool towards Counterwall Hide. We decided that this would be the best chance we have of some waders and made our way there. Five wood sandpiper were busily feeding in the far corner of the pool and in the waders in the distance included ruff, ringed plover, common sandpiper, together with mallard, teal, shelduck and pied wagtail. As we scanned the far pool there was a greenshank and several dunlin, and with the dunlin another small bird which turned out to be a little stint. There was also a possibility of a garganey but it remained behind reeds and unconfirmed.
Another birdwatcher pointed out a merlin to us, it was flying with swallows. The call of the curlew met us as we left the hide and as Irene and I stood on the bridge outside the hide admiring a water vole latrine the reeds started to move very slightly. As we waited for what we believed to be a vole to appear there was the distinct sound of munching – but sadly no sighting of the muncher! Our fellow birdwatcher disturbed our stake-out so we moved away, as I glanced upwards four spoonbill flew overhead with their distinctive shape showing the “spoons” well. We managed to get three other birdwatchers onto them before they disappeared from our view, not to be seen again.
Time for lunch and we took advantage of one of the benches overlooking the reserve.
Lunch over and as we moved on to the South Fleet Hide we watched common blue butterfly, red admiral, gatekeeper and green-veined white. There were over 50 green-veined white seen during the day, and at one stage over 15 in one place. More green sandpiper, greenshank, mallard, lapwing, teal and a snipe were in evidence and still the curlew were heard in the background. There were yellow wagtails taking advantage of a small “beach” opposite the hide and we had a good time watching their antics. At one stage there were at least 8 – many of them juveniles, preening, washing and hopping between the field and the fence chasing each other around. The juveniles were in various stages of plumage and only two adults appeared at any one time.
On the return trip I took the opportunity to climb a little way up the seawall, to see what was on the river side, and there were our curlew, at least 12 of them dotted about.
Time to take our leave and around the warden’s office there were goldfinch, greenfinch, swallows gathering on the telegraph wires and at one stage Paul spotted a sparrowhawk darting around the barn – probably after a crafty meal.