The 3 spoonbills showed well from Wellmarsh hide again this afternoon. Also an increase of spotted redshank, with 23 birds present.100+ black-tailed godwit, a buzzard being mobbed first by a marsh harrier & then by a kestrel and a calling grey partridge were other highlights.
Returning to work yesterday was somewhat difficult (to say the least) after a week away in the French Alps. Everyone gets the post-holiday back-to-work blues, but a day spent back at Elmley reminded me why I love working in conservation.
Admittedly, half my day was spent in the office, clearing out my inbox, working through my self-imposed list of tasks and with mixed success chasing people on the phone. When I did eventually get outside the sun was out and I could enjoy myself. As I traveled out on the quad bike to check the livestock, I had marsh harriers soaring overhead and skylarks darting across my path. I also heard and saw a number of alarming lapwings and redshanks.
The livestock have multiplied whilst I’ve been away. We now have another bull in with a herd of cows and calves- this time a handsome chestnut-coloured Sussex. A number of other cows and calves have also arrived to be divided between other groups currently on the marshes. Sometimes I wish I had a good digital SLR camera when I’m out and about. Yesterday was one such occasion, with a number of starlings perched up on the cattle mid-morning. It would have been an excellent photo!
Whilst I was on the reserve I saw over 20 spotted redshank in summer plumage and over 180 black-tailed godwits on the flood. The spotted redshanks have now bred in northern Europe and Siberia and are heading south to Europe, Africa and Asia for their summer holidays. The black-tailed godwits will either be UK resident or have attempted to breed in the area. (Most black-tailed godwits in the UK are from the Icelandic race and spend the winter here.) A roosting spoonbill was also seen on the flood, and Gordon witnessed a hobby nearly snatch a meadow pipit out of the air directly in front of South Fleet hide
Coming back to the office I was surrounded by a large flock of starlings dancing around me. The number of yellow wagtails I counted has also been the highest I’ve seen yet at Elmley- simply astonishing considering these are red-list species. In fact, Elmley does pretty well at attracting birds of conservation concern. You can find at least eight red-list species at Elmley at this time of year: grey partridges, lapwings, black-tailed godwits, skylarks, yellow wagtails, starlings, house sparrows and corn buntings. Other red-list species are often persent, and I haven’t even started on the amber-list species yet… If you want to find out more click here.
No sign of any spoonbills today - maybe they've finally gone. But I thought that a couple of weeks ago and they re-appeared! Still good numbers of spotted redshanks, black-tailed godwit & avocet on the Flood, with a single green sandpiper and a pair of wigeon. Also an adult Med gull and a pair of grey patridge at Kingshill Farm.
Ran the moth trap last night, but a disappointingly small haul of brown moths. Hope for better luck tonight
Thought as much.. A single spoonbill again on the Flood this afternoon from Southfleet hide, where there was also at least 13 spotted redshank and 80 black-tailed godwit. A further 180 godwits were roosting at Wellmarsh hide. 3 green sandpipers around the reserve today, along with a sprinkling of Med gulls en route to the Medway. There was a "singing" grey partridge at Kingshill Farm again this evening, where the house sparrow population appears to be doing well and a reed warbler has adopted the orchard as a surrogate reedbed. Early visitors to the reserve should check the east facing upstairs window ledges of the farm house as one of the little owls often sits there on sunny mornings.
A spoonbill was on the other side of the Swale today at the KWT reserve at Oare Marshes - presumably "our" bird. But at least 30 spotted redshank on the Flood over high tide, as well as 600+ black-tailed godwit show that autumn wader migration is well underway. Also 2 green sandpiper & a greenshank elsewhere on the reserve, a male bearded tit in the small reedbed just before Wellmarsh and a cuckoo at Kingshill Farm.