Monday, 2 August 2010

Elmley RSPB The Birds

I haven't been to Elmley for some time, it's a really nice reserve and I love the feeling of isolation and the big sky that comes from such a big flat landscape. I also like the long approach track from the road to the start of the reserve. I think it's almost three miles and this is best driven slowly with binoculars and camera to hand, just in case.

On this occasion the slow drive produced very little apart from the Carrion Crows endlessly foraging in every nook and cranny, Starlings pecking around amongst the cow pats searching for grubs and nearer the farm buildings a few Sand Martins hawking for flies over the fields. Just before the car park I saw a small flock of Yellow Wagtails and over the car park Swallows flew low and fast, one in particular was flying in and out of the ladies loos where there was a nest still in use. I thought about going in with the camera but decided against it after seeing in my mind's eye the possible headlines in the local newspaper if things went wrong.

The bushes on the right hand side where the Long Eared Owls sometimes roost held some Goldfinches and a Robin and also about 10 young Swallows (below) in a small tree being fed by adults, they stayed while I took a couple of pics and then all took to the air in unison.

It's quite a trek down to the first two hides, something like one and a half miles I think but the sun was out, it was a beautiful morning and I was accompanied by hundreds of butterflies and I mean hundreds. The whole site was alive with their brightly coloured wings flashing in the sunlight with sometimes up to a dozen individuals on a single plant. Needless to say I spent some time taking pictures of them which I will put on a separate post tomorrow.
In the meantime the birds weren't quite so plentiful but that wasn't unexpected. Coot, Moorhen, Pied Wagtail, Swan, Little Egret, Mallard, Sedge Warbler and a distant Marsh Harrier were all seen.

I reached the first hide and, with the reserve to myself and one other individual, was pleased to watch a small flock of Avocet feeding and preening in the now slightly overcast skies. I don't very often see these charismatic birds so i've included one or two shots plus a picture of a very cute little juvenile who was already displaying the same 'attitude' which the adults are renowned for.

Other waders making a welcome appearance here and at the adjacent hide (sorry, I cant remember what they're called) included Common Sandpiper, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Oystercatcher, Black-tailed Godwit, a single Ruff, Common Snipe and Lapwing. I tried to find the recently spotted Pectoral Sandpiper but to no avail.

As I left the second hide I was treated to good views of a Reed Warbler again, I seem to be doing well with this species lately and have found them quite accommodating on occasions. It seemed the longer I stood still the more accepting it was of my presence. Usually when you raise the lens you can hear the birds shouting 'look out he's got a camera!' whereupon the target bird disappears in a flash. But this one just carried on catching flies, although it never did the full monty for me and always made me work for a shot or two. A couple of which are seen below.

The walk back was pretty uneventful, apart from butterflies and a smart looking Grey Heron fishing by the reeds. But when I reached the car I was just putting the camera away when a couple of House Sparrows arrived on the scene. It's easy to overlook the humble 'sparrer' so I broke out the camera again and took the shots below of a very hungry and persistent Junior and a very unimpressed Dad.

And I said earlier, when driving along the Elmley track always keep bins and camera handy, just in case. I did and I soon spotted this tasty blonde who answered to the name of Marsha Harrier, what a cracker!



Warren Baker said...

Nice MH Phil. A good adition the the Photographic album :-)

Jann E. said...

Oops I didn't post my seeing your shore bird shots, and the marsh harrier, well done! The house sparrow is common in the US and visits our backyard feeder often. Lovely photos you've shared, thanks.