Language Translator

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Hen and Marsh Harriers

Immature male Marsh Harrier, Isles of Sheppy

  925 didn't join us. So it was johhny and I that arrived at Elmly RSPB reserve, Isle of Sheppy, at 8.30. Driving along the mile long track towards the reserve saw up to 10 Ruff with 1000+Lapwings.We were there till 11.30 and the highlight was good views of Marsh Harriers and flocks of 50+Barnicle Geese and 35+dark-bellied Brent Geese with smaler numbers of Black-tailed Godwits.

Flock of over 50 Barnicle Geese arrived on the reserve, mid-morning

Skylarks were everywhere on the reserve including birds singing

We had tasty bacon/egg sandwich at a local cafe and then slowly drove the narrow lanes towards Capel Fleet raptor watchpoint. Just past the watch point, we found 4 Bramblings on the side of the road. John was over the moon, but not as much as I was when I spotted a fem Hen Harrier in the distance.  At the watchpoint, there were a total of 38 Corn Buntings on the telegraph wires and again lots of Marsh Harrier on view all the time. Eight was in the air at one time, with 2 Buzzards and a fem Sparrowhawk and Kestrel. Johnny shouted 'Male Hen Harrier'! I got on to it flying low across a corn field before flying over the brow of the hill. Later I located it again in the same field and again it was only briefly. I also relocated the fem Hen Harrier at much closer range and  it was in view for a good ten minutes only to reappear right in front of us some five minutes later

Fem Hen Harrier at Capel Fleet raptor watchpoint

Johnny Bushnell enjoying the grace of this male Marsh Harrier

One of the 39 Corn Bunting at the raptor watchpoint

Two different Marsh Harriers at the watchpoint

Dark-bellied Brent geese 

Two of the 4 Bramblings near the watchpoint

Johnny wanted to return to Elmly to try for the three species of owl that are present at the moment. As we approached the main road from the watchpoint, I noticed some swans in a Kale field. I stopped the car and found 11 Bewick Swans with 4 Mute Swans. We were succesful with two of the owls with a brief , but close encounter of a Barn Owl and just as it was almost dark, a Little Owl was on one of the walls of the reserve buildings. The last birds we saw were 7 Marsh Harriers coming into roost on the marsh. A Fox was in the same area and 2 Hares were in front of the headlights on the mile long track

This Little Owl was keeping a watchful eye on Johnny and I just before dark

The sun disappearing over the reserve

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