Fallow Stag, Knowle Park.

Fallow Stag, Knowle Park.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

** 16th January. Short afternoon visit to Elmley NNR.**

Yesterday, Tuesday 16th Jan I fancied going to Elmley National Nature Reserve. Just as I had finished loading the car it started to rain. It went on for a while and I wasn't sure as to go or not, but Pam said "It might not be raining over there." so we went. She was right when we came off of the M2 the rain stopped. The first thing I must say is that the track from the road all the way down to the hide is in very good condition.
Nothing was really seen on the way to the car park, but once there the first thing I did was to look over the wall by the toilets to see the Barn Owl's that seems to have taken up residence in the prior long lease  Little Owl's  home.
As expected the ground and fields on the way to the car park sodden, all the sheep there seem to be pregnant, not far off of dropping, and they wasn't straying far from the track. Who can blame  them.
There was a few of the usual species seen en route, to the hides, mostly LittleEgret, but once we arrived and parked up I soon found out just how wet and muddy it was. Now not being able to wear wellies was going to be a bundle of fun getting to the hide, and having to use crutches was, well you can imagine what it was like. Once in the hide, oh by the way there was only 3 people on the reserve apart from me. I once again sat in *Ken's Corner*. When they moved the Wellmarsh Hide from about 100 yard further along the track, and built the new one on the corner where it is now, me and a couple of friends was a few of the first ones to use it , so, out came the pen and I left my mark in the corner, can't remember the month but it was 2003. I had a feeling that there might be a shortage of birds due to the high water levels, but you never know.
As expected the Marsh Harriers was out hunting, there was a good number of them out and about today, more that I normally see in one short period, except when it is breeding season down Harty Ferry Rd from Capel Fleet to the viewing mound.
I have often seen many Lapwing here, especially when the Harriers  have done a low fly byes, but this time was something I have not seen before, In my estimation the number of Lapwing on the reserve could be any where from 2, 3,4,000, possibly  more.
Many of the Lapwing went up twice and that was  when 3 Harriers came through from different directions, and different heights. When they went up and I watched them though my bins and all I could see was tightly packed flocks of Lapwings, even Pam commented on the huge numbers, and she saw them all from the car.
The number of Marsh Harriers I counted in one scan from left to right was 9. Two of them landed on the ground and even at a distance, and the light not being brilliant I was still able to make out that one had a orange right wing tag and the other bird had a yellow wing tag, the only problem was I couldn't make out the letters and numbers on them, but I might be able to get  more information from the Hawk and Owl Trust.
I was happy with my short trip, as usual, it is enjoyable just sitting in the hide thinking, as I do, about the natural world in all it's forms etc.
There was one bit of bad luck, when I was on my way back to the car, and about 30yds from the gate, as I said earlier it is very very muddy, well I followed what I thought was virtually the same route going but I cocked it up. I took a few wrong steps and my boots sunk in up to the laces and as did my crutches. I had no problem getting out but as I pulled one of my crutches out the suction  took one of the crutch rubber right off,  the think is I didn't find out until I got home. Being dark I took them out of the bag as usual, went to get out, and then I heard "Clunk" metal and concrete. Thank god I have got spare rubbers........
I wasn't going to bother writing about my trip because I didn't think I had much to post, but I thought, well it is better than not posting at all.


  1. Ken ,
    Good job you got out yesterday , with the overnight rain , and more today ,
    you could have left more than a crutch rubber in the mud .
    Got to agree re the condition of the track . I've been impressed with much on site since the RSPB handed it back .
    Out of interest , have you 'tagged' every hide in the SE ?

  2. Well done for braving the elements Ken. Elmley Is a great place especially for Marsh Harriers and Lapwings it seems!

  3. Ken,
    Sightings of wing-tagged Marsh Harriers around Sheppey should be E-Mailed to - margyandrod@btinternet.com. Rod participates in the annual wing tagging on Sheppey. I've already advised him of your recent sighting.

  4. Greenie.
    No I haven't 'tagged' every hide in the S/E....yet, but I am working on it :-)

    Thanks mate, Harriers have really boomed on island, as for Lapwing, well I think we must have possibily the largest number in the country in this area, especially in the winter.

    Thanks for taking the time for reporting my Marsh Harrier sighting for me. I have since emailed Rod myself. Cheers.

  5. Glad you didn't take a tumble! You saw some good birds for your efforts. I am in Minnesota at the moments and the high tomorrow will -18C; no mud around here ... Can't wait to get back home to Belize.