Sunday, 9 March 2014

" Big Sky " at Elmley

It was with fond memories  I returned to Elmley today, it has been a long time since I last trekked down to the flood.

This was one of the first bird reserves I ever visited when I first became interested in bird watching.

 The RSPB have moved on, and the land is now being managed by new owners.

The entrance track up to Kingshill Farm is in better condition than it used to be, plenty of familiar birds to see from the car .

Redshank  " Warden of the Marsh " ever watchful, ready to give its warning cry.

Lapwings or "Peewits" as we used to call them in my younger days, are pairing up and staking out there  breeding sites.

Curlew with its impressive bill.

 The meadows situated in front of the farm have been partly seeded with wild bird mix to encourage Grey Partridge which can be sometimes seen here.
No Partridge today only these Pheasants skulking through the set aside areas.

A view of Kingshill farm, showing the Oak trees, where the Little Owl and Barn owl boxes are situated, and often giving good views of the Owls at the appropriate times.

From here you park your car and begin the long trek down to the flood and beyond.

As you leave the farm and look out across the land, you cannot help but be impressed with the vista set out before you.

" Big Skies" my father in law often talks about his love of a
 "Big Sky", and this is what comes to mind, as you walk down the track.

It seems as if all the hides around the flood have been upgraded over the years,  the Swale hide suffered storm damage few years ago, I believe the new owners have plans to replace it soon.

A new view from the Southfleet hide, an abomination on the landscape, I hate them with a passion.

A better view over Spitend marshes and the distant Spitend Hide,
It was here I used to head for, at the end of a busy tour of duty at the fire station, long before I retired, complete solitude and a place to escape the madness of East London, not today though.

Back to the main flood, this is is a good place to watch Marsh Harriers, and if you're lucky, a Peregrine or Merlin, as they
put up the birds hidden across the floods.

A typical view below.

Heres a distant view  of part of a large flock of birds put up by a Marsh Harrier. If you look carefully you can see Avocet, Black Tailed Godwit, Wigeon, Shoveller, Common Gull and Black Headed Gull.

I spent some time in the WellMarsh hide, the tide was up on the Swale, and the waders were coming into roost on what was left showing of the small islands.

Dunlin coming into roost

Some Turnstone having a wash and brush up before they settle down to roost and wait for the tide to change.
Grey Plover not yet in their breeding plumage.

A  few Ringed Plovers scattered around the islands with  Oystercatcher, Avocet, Black Tailed Godwits.

Wildfowl represented by huge numbers of Wigeon, Teal, smaller numbers of Shelduck, Shoveller, Pintail, Greylag Geese, Canada Geese,

These Brent Geese flew over the flood, but did not Settle.

Little Egrets outnumbered Grey Herons, how times change.

As I headed back up the track towards the end of the day, I was lucky enough to see two  Short Eared Owls, which I tried to photograph, not very successfully in my panic.

As I drove away from the farm, a quick look  over the meadows towards the old school building revealed a number of Hare's.

Heres a selection, not brilliant as they were quite distant, a total of eight Hare's seen together is the most I have ever seen.

Seven Hare's in this small corner of the meadow.

A view of the old and new Bridges bringing you on to Isle of Sheppey.

Hopefully I will not leave it so long before I return again!

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