Elmley nature Reserve – Field Trip 27 April

The forecast changed about three times in the last 24 hours and thankfully it kept dry. The group was inadvertently (which is a polite way of pointing out two were late) went their separate ways so the sightings are a combination of what we all saw.

On the track leading to the car park a couple of us were fortunate to see yellow wagtails and lapwing chicks on summary the later you arrived the better the weather got, and more birds showed. Oyster catchers, redshanks, skylarks, marsh harrier, red and grey legged partridges and pheasant could be seen.

From the car park a couple of us witnessed a male marsh harrier and short eared owl come close by whilst a cuckoo sang for a while behind us then flew over and sang near the old school house. A cetti’s warbler played the same old game see me if you can singing from the car park. A few swallows passed overhead.

Walking to the old schoolhouse the little owl was in its usual place and a hare bolted down the track. Marsh harriers were evident, and we walked to the old brickworks hoping to see bearded tits which we heard but did not see. A grey heron caused mayhem going into the reeds, but we did not see what it caught, the commotion however raised by the ducks etc suggested it was on a mission.

By the Swale there were distant views of swifts (those with good eyesight that is), a common tern on both the mudflats then feeding by one of the pools, oyster catchers, redshanks, avocets were all nearby and a distant curlew fed on the fringes of the tide.

Back on the track the bearded tits were seen about five in total and close enough for a decent photo. The little owl was still in the same place and so we made it back to the car park for lunch and were pleased to see a short- eared owl perched on one of the nearby posts so everyone took turns photographing or enjoyed the view through a scope or binoculars.

After lunch we ventured down towards one of the hides meeting up with the two other members of the group who had heard the bittern and who later saw the two owls mentioned above. At the hide we were greeted by 25 avocets close by seemingly annoying the black headed gulls that were sitting on nests. On the way back a marsh harrier lept from nearby reeds and sedge warblers began to venture out as the sun appeared.

Two lesser black backed gulls were on posts by one of the pools occupied in the winter months by hundreds of ducks  but now  empty as the birds had migrated to their breeding grounds in Northern Europe. A coot and its three young chicks were close by, and the short-eared owl was still nearby.

On the way back skylarks were close to the track and marsh harriers buy feeding. A very good day had by all.