Trip reports

Elmley NNR (Leader Richard Hanman)

Elmley NNR (Leader Richard Hanman)
Kestrel [Richard Hanman]

Sunday, 30 October 2016

It was a mild and misty morning on the eve of Halloween, and at 7.30am most of the Isle of Sheppey was cloaked in a faint veil of fog.

The gates to Elmley don't open until 8am so this gave a few early birders the opportunity to drive the Ferry Road track to pick up common hedgerow birds such as greenfinches, goldfinches, robins, blackbirds, blue tits, great tits, magpies, carrion crows, house sparrows, starlings, collared doves and woodpigeons. Other birds of note included marsh harriers, herring gulls and moorhens.

With the gates to Elmley open, each made their own way in their own time along the scenic drive across the grassland to the reserve car park picking up more birds on the way in the form of common buzzards, kestrels, pheasants, curlews, lapwings, skylarks, meadow pipits, snipe, cormorants, mute swans, great black-backed gulls, rook and stock dove. In the car park itself the feeders were being visited by goldfinches, chaffinches and house sparrows, with moorhens, pheasants and farmyard chickens waiting patiently underneath to hoover up any dropped seed. Pied wagtails perched on the barn roof, and a pair of coots went about their business in the small pool.

With everyone assembled we did a quick headcount (11 birders) and set off on a steady walk down the main track towards the hides. In the reeds Yuek picked out a beautiful bearded tit, as stonechats, reed buntings and wrens flitted amongst the reeds nearby.

From the viewing screen overlooking The Swale we scoped mallards, teals, wigeons, gadwalls, shelducks, great crested grebes, black-headed gulls, dunlins, turnstones, grey plovers, redshanks, green sandpipers, little egrets, grey herons and a brent goose.

On the opposite side of the track in the fields we saw Canada geese and greylag geese, a little grebe was feeding in a pool, and in the reeds we heard water rail and Cetti's warbler calling but as usual ... failed to get a visual on either.

On the mound before the first hide Yuek struck gold again - this time picking out a pair of pintails. Elevenses was taken in Wellmarsh Hide where we had good views of grey plovers, dunlins and snipe but no new birds for our day list.

Richard Hanman