Last Sunday John and Pauline led a lovely walk around this excellent reserve which is now run by the Elmley Conservation Trust. Here is their report:
Driving down to the car park, there is still a lot of surface water providing nesting and feeding opportunities, a coot on a nest being one. Many birds were close to the road giving first class views, little egret, redshank and lapwing the most common. Cattle were grazing with their young calves and four hares sparring.
Fifteen of us shared our sightings before setting off. Gareth, who is a member of the Elmley team and lives at Kingshill Farm with his wife, introduced himself and spoke about future plans which are all very encouraging. Since our last visit, benches have been installed at several sites along the path to the hide (all tried and tested by Sue H). Yellow wagtail and wheatear had been seen so off we set in lovely sunshine, no sign of the barn owl in the box.
House sparrow, blackbird, jackdaw and a wren were calling. Enjoying the warmth, we saw peacock and small tortoiseshell butterflies.
We heard the distinctive call of the Mediterranean gull overhead, and in the distance brent geese, shovelers, marsh harrier, teal and hovering kestrel. We had close views of reed bunting and noisy marsh frogs. Further away were great crested grebe, skylark, nesting mute swan, and cormorant.
From Wellmarsh hide we had lovely views of avocet, black-tailed godwit, black-headed gull, buzzard, tufted duck, at least 4 marsh harriers, (one with orange wing tag) and turnstone.
At Southfleet hide we found oystercatchers nesting, wigeon, tufted duck, shovelers displaying, pied wagtail, redshank, black-headed gulls, avocets, teal, mallard, marsh harrier, a pair of ringed plovers, dunlin, turnstone, greylag geese, moorhen, great crested grebe, brent geese, lapwing, teal and stoat. Everything looked wonderful in the sunshine. On leaving the hide we disturbed a redshank which rewarded us with a wonderful display, and saw meadow pipit.
We ventured a little further along the seawall hoping to spot wheatear but no luck and decided to revisit Wellmarsh hide as it was coming up to high tide and there were indeed many more turnstones, avocets busy feeding, pairing and nesting. Snipe were added to list and a swallow, the first this year for most of us?
Sadly no short eared owl, wheatear or yellow wagtail, but a very enjoyable day.
John & Pauline
Ed: many thanks to John and Pauline for leading this lovely walk. They obviously did an excellent bit of weather planning too!
Back to J&P: On Sunday we went to Dungeness, lighthouse area, where we saw our first wheatear. Very few seabirds. On to Rye harbour where we were lucky to see a pair of wheatear and from the hide great views of at least 200 sandwich terns alongside similar numbers of oystercatchers and lovely views of Mediterranean gulls overhead and amongst the black headed gulls resting and squabbling.
Yellow wagtails had been seen but again eluded us. Red breasted merganser had been reported which is a rarity for the area but – you guessed it
Photos by John