We had a great, slow drive in, cattle grazing with their calves. On fence post oystercatcher and three redshank, which seemed rather out of place. Lots of lapwing and coot with young and marsh harrier being mobbed by a pair of lapwing and a crow. Wonderful views of a pair of yellow wagtails flitting back and forth, possibly still feeding young. Hares were frolicking in the distance (not boxing as hoped).
Once we reached the car park Gareth, a member of the Elmley staff, told us that 330 pairs of lapwing had been recorded with 350 fledglings and 9 breeding pairs of marsh harrier. Unfortunately the little owl that we all look out for by the toilets had been ousted by the barn owls and can now only be seen at the entrance (if you are lucky).
There was a swallow’s nest in the ladies and they were busy back and fro, though we could not see the chicks, but it was obvious they were feeding them. 11 of us assembled in the new car park where we saw lots of sparrows and a pied wagtail. A hare approached John quite close but he did not have his camera at the ready. The entrance has now changed and goes past the pond where we saw coot with young, these proved to be numerous as the day progressed.
We saw many butterflies; meadow brown, small heath, tortoiseshell on thistles – very bright and handsome, possibly newly emerged, common blue, red admiral and, on return, masses of black caterpillars on nettles which will become beautiful peacock butterflies.
Swifts and swallows wheeling above, yellow wagtails and the noisy marsh frogs mingling with the chorus of the reed inhabitants and redshanks calling and a lovely warm yet humid day. Little egret, reed bunting and female bearded tit (a first for us here). From the screen, avocet and grey heron – the tide was a long way out.
Large flock of redshank, sedge warbler – obligingly giving good views, and lots of marsh harriers, sky lark and common tern.
Birdsfoot Trefoil in bloom (common name thanks to Sally – eggs and bacon).
Kestrel, black-headed gull, herring gull, shelduck and curlew. We looked for water vole by the Wellmarsh hide, inside for lunch large number of avocet – 60+, black-tailed godwit, redshank, kestrel, little egret, moorhen, shelduck (5 young), shoveler (4 young), mallard (the winner with 9 young) – here we heard mediterranean gull with its distinctive call and later saw two outside overhead and a meadow pipit on top of the Southfleet hide. From inside the hide we saw little grebe and greylag and Canada geese in the distance – but the star of the show (credit to eagle-eyed Roy) was spotted redshank! – I for one didn’t realise they were so dark this time of year.
On the way back linnet, pheasant, goldfinch, tufted duck and magpie – wren heard in the car park. And I must not forget the reed warbler expertly spotted by the ladies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks to Sally for the photographs