Monday, 9 December 2013

Marsh Harrier

The weather looked good today so I picked Dave up and we headed off to Sheppey in North Kent. Our target was White-fronted Geese which we both needed as a year tick. They had also been reported at Rainham Marshes and Pett Level but with seventy two at Shellness it seemed the best option.

Seventy two and we only needed to see one. I'm sure you have already guessed. No White-fronted Geese at Shellness and in fact virtually no birds at all. Last time I was here it was wall to wall waders, this time all we saw was a couple of Pied Wagtails some Shellducks out on the mud and a few Meadow Pipits. Probably our fault though, the tide was way out and most of the birds with it.

We had a quick look around Elmly Nature Reserve, lots of birds but nothing unusual. There were a lot of geese there but they were a long way off and I only had the bins with me, so no chance of picking out the White-fronted.

It was looking like a disappointing day but we had Oare Marshes as our last stop and it always manages to produce some good picture opportunities.


The Marsh had been flooded by the recent tidal surge and the water level was too high for the waders in the main scrape. Most of the birds were in the waterlogged marsh making the most of a new feeding area.


More Ruff

We also had a squealing Water Rail that came out in the open. Although they are usually skulking in the reeds they are not a shy bird. When their territory is flooded they seem quite happy to come out into the open looking for food and they always seem to be more concerned about Moorhens and other Water Rails than they do about people.

There should be a really nice picture of a Water Rail at this point but I completely blew it, all my pictures were blurred beyond recovery. Much as it pains me you will have to see Dave's blog "Friends of Groyne No 4" if you want to see the Water Rail.

Still a bit of a disappointing day but then as we were thinking of heading home all the birds took to the air as a female Marsh Harrier flew over the site.

Marsh Harrier

An impressive predator

The local crows were not as impressed as I was and were soon in the air to mob it. It's only when you see it alongside the crow that you realise how small it actually is.

It looked so powerful in the pictures above

Evenly matched in the air but the crows have better team work

With the light fading there was just time for a picture of a Lapwing, another of the bird I tend to take for granted. Not only is it one of the best birds to watch in flight but there are very few birds that can match it for colour.

Lapwing in the sunset - how does it stay so clean in all that mud

No white-fronted Geese but we had a good days birding and came away with some good pictures.

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