Trip reports

Elmley and Capel Fleet (Leader Richard Hanman)

Elmley and Capel Fleet (Leader Richard Hanman)
Robin [Richard Hanman]

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Eight of us met up in the car park to be greeted by a covey of guinea fowls and a large displaying turkey! Wasn't expecting that!

On the drive across the track to the car park we picked up marsh harrier, cormorant, curlew, lapwing, oystercatcher, carrion crow, rook, magpie, jackdaw, starling, meadow pipit, mallard, grey heron, mute swan and pheasant. A kestrel posed nicely on top of a sign and Nigel and Judy also picked up little owl at the farm entrance.

On the car park feeders we added goldfinches, chaffinches, robins, house sparrows and blue tits. A large flock of several hundred wigeons took to the air and headed off towards the Swale.

From the viewing screen we picked up greylag geese, little egrets, ringed plovers, grey plovers, turnstones and redshanks amongst the 100+ dunlins feeding on the muddy shoreline. Large flotillas of shelducks and wigeons were in the middle of the Swale and a common buzzard flew overhead. With no water (and no birds) at the scrapes in front of the hides, seven of us changed tack and headed for Harty Ferry road and the Capel Fleet Raptor Viewing mound. Yuek was happy to continue to explore Elmley on his own.

En-route to Harty Ferry we added collared dove, woodpigeon, black-headed gull, herring gull, coot, moorhen, little grebe, shoveler, linnet and corn bunting. Some of the group were lucky enough to get a brief glimpse of a juvenile male hen harrier!

At the viewing mound the mist began to descend until we were shrouded in a cold, wet blanket of cloud. Visibility was poor, but we still manage to pick out a pale rough-legged buzzard, common buzzard, marsh harrier, kestrel, grey heron and great black-backed gull. A kingfisher called but remained hidden and two bearded tits dropped into the reeds in front of us but didn't re-show. We were reliably informed by some other birders that two distant swans were of the whooper variety!

Robin and Elaine had had enough and headed home but the rest of us made one last stop at Harty Ferry church. We parked in the farmyard and embarked on a short stroll picking up fieldfare, redwing, blackbird, greenfinch, chaffinch, pied wagtail and great tit. On the way back to the main road we added red-legged partridge. Three hours of birding in the grey mirk produced 54 species seen + one heard ... and that didn't include the guinea fowl or the turkey! At 12noon, the last four of us called it a day and also headed home.

Richard Hanman