Fallow Stag, Knowle Park.

Fallow Stag, Knowle Park.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

"M"y "E"aster "D"elight (Friday 6th April)

Hoping that Friday was going to be the best day on the Easter Holiday I decided to go  on the Isle of Sheppey with my friend Ian for a days birding. We headed for Leysdowne Beach to start. When we arrived the tide was in, the only birds apart from a few Gulls on the water, a handful of Turnstones was sitting in the groynes. We then turned about and checked  the putting green. it was mainly Gulls on it, along with C/Crows, a few Jackdaws, Starlings and W/Pigeons, but after going through the Gulls again 8  stood out, they was Mediterranean Gulls in full breeding plumage. That was a good start to the day.
From here we headed off to Harty Ferry. Our 1st stop was at Capel Fleet on which there was the following species, Mute Swan, 1 Grey Heron, Greylag, Mallard, Pochard,Shelduck, Teal, Tufted Duck, Coot, Moorhen, 2 Avocet, 2 Oystercatcher, 4 Lapwing, 3 Redshank,  a Green Woodpecker, and a 2 Common Buzzard riding the thermals
We drove further along the road and stopped at one of the pull offs, to  watch 5 Marsh Harriers
soaring . While watching them  there was a good number of skylarks singing, along with a couple of Reed Buntings. and a few Red legged Partridge.
As we carried on towards the Harty Ferry Inn, stopping off again on the way we watched a pair of Marsh Harriers displaying listening to the female calling. a Sparrowhawk passed overhead
I also saw my first Peacock Butterfly.
Once at the Inn we had lunch before scanning the river. When we did the first birds sighted was a small gaggle of Brent Geese. All the small pools out in front was dry apart from one. There was a few wading birds
around, Redshank, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Little Egret. the Gulls seen was Black Headed, Herring, Common, and Lesser Black Backed . A male Kestrel was sitting on the box in the field below  Harty church.
The other raptor seen was another Sparrowhawk. The other species seen from here was as follows; Shelduck, /Dove, W/Pigeon, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Robin, Wren, Linnet, Blackbird, Pied Wagtail, H/Sparrow.
We tried scanning the river but the heat haze was so bad it was difficult to see anything.
Our last port of call was Elmley RSPB Reserve. We arrived here at about 1.30pm. We had a scan from the beginning of the entrance track to see if the Rough legged Buzzard might still be around but we never saw it if it was. What we did see though was just as good for this time of year,  I regularly  check the bird report websites, and I haven't seen any reported yet,  the gird in question is a beautiful male Yellow Wagtail (Flavissima race). It was walking around with the cattle that was grazing a short way up the track. I did try to get a shot of it but I must have spooked it and it moved further off to where the other cattle was.
We did meet the warden later in the day so we reported it to him as it is the 1st one seen this year.
We also saw a good number of Skyarks again singing. Other species seen on the way to the car park was:
Mute Swan, Lapwing, Starling, Greylag, C/Crow, and a single Common Buzzard.
Once at the car park we expected it to be busy but there was only about 8 cars there. As usual a scan over the wall next to the ladies loo was first. There wasn't any sight of the Little Owl, but there was plenty of birds to keep us occupied. First of all was the birds by the pool, 10-20 Avocet,  1 Whimbrel, 3 Oystercatchers, 7 Redshanks, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Shelduck. Dabchick.
In the fields not too far behind the pool was many Gulls, what we saw next was something I don't think I will ever see again  at least 52 MEDITERRANEAN GULLS, all in full breeding plumage. Ian and I both counted them several times and 52 was the average figure we arrived at. It was a pity the wasn't close enough for photo as it would have made a great one. They was lovely to watch with the sunshine on their plumage, showing off their black heads, blood red bills and pure white plumage, so along with the other 8 seen earlier that made about60 in total seen.
The first hide we went to was the South Fleet Hide, on the way there we didn't see anything out of the ordinary.
As we walked up the path to the hide a couple of Meadow Pipits was sitting close by.
After settling down, out in front was many white birds, which was made up of Shelducks and Avocets.
There was other species around but I decided to count those 2 species to see just how many of them there was. I counted the Shelduck first, my estimated figure was 169 that I could see. The Avocet was a lot higher. From the scrape closest to the hide to the far pool was about 276, andf a good number of those was
paired up and mating.
There was another good species seen and that was a Little Stint.
Greylag Geese, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Marsh Harrier(4), Kestel,  Mute Swan, Little Egret, Shelduck, Teal, Gadwall,  Tufted Duck, Pochard, Wigeon, Redshank, Curlew, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Coot, Moorhen, B/H/Gull, Herring Gull, C/Crow, Jackdaw, Magpie, Skylark, Starling,
Our final stop was the Wellmarsh Hide. The water lever here was better than I had expected, I thought it would be pretty dry, but I was wrong. Many of the species seen from here was the same as seen from the South Swale Hide. The only different sightings was Black Tailed Godwits most in full breeding plumage covering about 3/4 of one of the islands out in front 4 Common Buzzards,and finally a bird that was virtually in it's breeding plumage, a Spotted Redshank. I was hoping that it would work it's way along the water's edge nearer to the hide, but no such luck.
As we was leaving the car park we saw a flock of about 50 ish Linnets wheeling looking for what looked like somewhere to land.
We didn't see any Swallows, but there is nest building taking place in the usual place, just inside the gents toilet block.

We had a great days birding to which I would like thank Ian for.
My Bird Of The Day is not difficult today, in fact it is Birds Of The Day, which are the :
         ***  Mediterranean Gulls.***


  1. Hi Ken,what a great days birding.

  2. Hi Ken , seems you and Ian had a great time .I keep hearing that Sheppey is very dry lets hope it stays wet for breeding birds!

  3. You certainly filled your boots Ken!
    I keep reading about Med Gull sightings this year with some big numbers mentioned, especially at Rye. Sounds encouraging for this species.
    Nice early sighting of Yellow Wag too.

  4. Blimey, quite a days birding there Ken! Good to see some of the migrant species arriving.

    Only ever had one record of Med Gull here, but I'm always scanning the sky for the next one :-)

  5. Alan.
    Thanks, it certainly was a very good day.

    Mike H.
    It is slowly drying out in places, but it isn't yet dry enough to stop the birds breeding.

    Before we went out I also heard of above average numbers of Med Gulls, but I never thought I would see 51+ in my life time. Hopefully they will be seen in many more places. You never know may be you will see more of them in your patch. The Yellow Wag was a good sighting especially being a male

    I expect many migrants will be with you very soon now.
    I hope the Med Gulls pay your patch a visit real soon.

  6. I don't know how you can afford to go to all these exotic places and get all those 'wonderful' sightings.
    Nice day Ken.