The weather forecast was bad but despite driving to Sheppey in pouring rain, 7 of us decided we would carry on regardless.
The approach road has been vastly improved since our previous visit with lots of clearance and excavation evident.
On the right hand side sunflowers have been planted in huge drifts and these were being visited by large flocks of goldfinch. Skylarks singing, starling, carrion crow, lapwing and mute swan.
From the car park, beyond the wall teal, we could see wigeon, black-tailed godwit, mallard, moorhen, great black-backed gull and kestrel in the tree where the owl box sits (no sign of little owl), and marsh harrier.
Suitably dressed in our waterproofs we set off through the gate, with a robin singing in the background. Marion disturbed a bird in the bushes which to our great delight was a barn owl which we were able to watch for some time as it was mobbed by crows, landed and eventually took cover in the trees. Dunnock and pied wagtail showing, now in lovely sunshine, also black bird. Proceeding down the track we saw meadow pipits, buzzard, female reed bunting, great crested grebe and at least a dozen little egret.
Welmarsh hide: lots of Canada Geese, 7 snipe, cormorant, little egret, buzzard showing well on post and harriers in distance, kestrel and shelduck in flight.
Counter Wall hide: stonechat, cormorant, teal wigeon, curlew, little egret, approx 50-60 golden plover, 1 greylag goose, grey heron, mute swan.
On to Southfleet hide: good views of wheatear, also meadow pipit, snipe, green sandpiper (found by Sue). Marsh frogs heard but we all agreed the pools were unusually quiet especially as we were approaching high tide.
On the way back we saw brent geese.
We couldn’t believe our luck – apart from 2 who left earlier, we all remained dry and had a most enjoyable day. As we approached the main road again the heavens opened and rained all the way back home.
Sorry, no photos as John thought it was going to be too wet to risk his camera.
Elmley is now a National Nature reserve, two new hides are planned along the Swale with a screen for one of them.
There is a new website and comments are invited.
Pauline and John Beard