The first guided walk of the year took place on the reserve today. Not ideal conditions - it didn't actually rain, but the strong wind didn't help matters. A pleasing 25 people turned up to be shown winter waterfowl and raptors, and while the waterfowl played ball, the raptors unfortunately didn't. Still, you can't knock the sight of several hundreds of wigeon and lapwing, with smaller numbers of pintail, gadwall, teal, curlew, golden plover and black-tailed godwits. We even managed to find a small group of white-fronted and brent geese near the Wellmarsh benches. In terms of birds of prey, marsh harriers were the only really obvious ones. There was a brief merlin, that some of the group got onto as it shot across the Flood, but that and the peregrine that tantalised us with it's presence (flocks of panicking birds were testament to that) basically eluded us. And windy days are not good owl days either. But that's life! Hopefully those who were making their first visit to Elmley will have had their appetites whetted for further visits.