Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Mid-summer at Rye Meads

21st July 2015

The height of summer, a warm sunny day, so time for a jaunt down to the Draper Hide at Rye Meads. The water levels were still fairly high so not much exposed mud, just a few margins round islands. As a result the 10 Green Sandpipers were confined to the back of the scrape and beyond the realms of photography. However a pair of Stock Doves did come down for a drink and provided some interest.

Right in front of the hide a young Pochard was getting use to its new surroundings and was practising diving to find its own food.

Basically all you have to do is jump out of the water...........

........stick your head under.............

.................paddle like mad..........

..............until your tail disappears!!

A nearby female Gadwall, or perhaps a male in eclipse, was having a bath with plenty of wing-flapping.

But the stars of today were the Common Terns which were sitting around loafing on perches or the muddy beaches. This one was so laid back it fell off its perch and had trouble regaining its footing.

Despite the breeding season being all but over there was still a great deal of posturing.

This young bird was watching the goings-on until it felt the need for a stretch.

However, as always there a great deal of dancing over the water which makes these birds so elegant and it is sad to think that in just a few weeks they will all be gone for another year.

Friday, 24 July 2015

.....and now on to Elmley Marshes

19th July 2015

I hadn't been to Elmley Marshes in the summer months before and was aware that it could be fairly quiet compared to the busy winter months. I was not disappointed. Following the departure of the RSPB, Elmley Estates have re-routed the track down from the car park to avoid the houses and shepherds huts with the old route rejoining by the sea wall. This is a shame as you lose the view over the Little Owl trees and the panoramic view over the marshes. It was in fact dead all the way to the first hide apart from several Bearded Tits, which as I have said before seem to have had a very good year. I had had high hopes for the scrape in front of the hide with the afternoon sun behind us..........but it was baked dry!!!

So, perhaps not such a good idea after all so we started the return journey to the car. Then, about half way back we flushed a female Marsh Harrier which was sitting about 40 yards from the path. However, what was surprising was that the bird, instead of flying straight off, flew away a hundred or so yards and then flew back and did a couple of laps obviously wanting to return to the same area. Presumably it had young in the reeds nearby. Anyway an opportunity not to be missed.

However, when we returned to the car park we still had one more surprise in store. A hundred or so Sand Martins had gathered on the wires outside the barn and were obviously feeding up before their long journey back to Africa. So a rather quiet afternoon turned out to be OK after all.

Monday, 20 July 2015

A Mid-summer Visit to Oare Marshes

19th July 2015

Back from holiday so where to go in this lull before the storm time of year.Well it is now two years since I went to Oare Marshes to photograph the Bonaparte's Gull on the 27th June 2013, so time for another visit to see it in full adult plumage.

When we arrived the tide was out so the gull was nowhere to be seen, presumably feeding out on the acres of mud on the Swale. There were however hundreds of waders present on the scrape including about 300 Black-tailed Godwits still in breeding plumage as well as 100+ Redshank, with a supporting cast of Ruff, Greenshank, Curlew Sandpiper, Avocet and a few Dunlin.

We set off on a circuit of the sea wall to see if the Bony's was on show and came across a male Linnet perched on a Wild Rose. There were also plenty of Bearded Tits flying around and I suspect that they have had a very good year as they are numerous just about everywhere with a modest size reed bed.

Out on the point a scan of the mud revealed just a couple of Redshank, a single Curlew and this lone Whimbrel which unfortunately kept its distance.

Back at the scrape the Bonaparte's Gull had flown in on schedule and was busy preening out on a spit. Eventually it did puts its head up allowing a few shots. Despite it being with a couple of hundred Black-headed Gulls it was easy to pick out due to its small size, being only a couple of centimetres larger than a Little Gull.

 Well, that was successful and still time left for a quick visit to Elmley.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

SUCCESS at last with the Rainham Marshes Bearded Tits

18th June 2015

After being stuck on the M25 for an hour I was in need of some luck and therefore pressed straight on to the dragonfly pools in the hope that the Beardies would today be a little more cooperative. It wasn't long before some pinging drew my attention to one particular section of the pools and a couple of juveniles clambered to the top of the reeds for some photos.

Eventually one particular individual, a juvenile female, came much closer and actually perched on one of the metal dragonfly sculptures in the dragonfly pools. How fantastic to see them so close and settled.

A Sedge Warbler had obviously been watching this and thought he would have a go on the cat-walk in front of all the photographers.

At that point a juvenile male took over and posed for even more photos.

Sadly the only sightings of any adults were fleeting glimpses as the rushed in to feed the juveniles and then rush out again. But the lasting memory of the day was when a couple of juveniles, a male and a female, were feeling a little insecure and cuddled up to each other waiting for their next feed. What a fantastic day!!