Today was the first "field by field" census of the year for this breeding season. We carry out 3 of these to record the breeding populations across the site, walking through every field & aiming to get to within 100m of all points on the reserve. Elmley's quite a big area, so to cover it all in a morning we split it, Natalie & Rachel took the north & me the south. As far as I'm concerned it's one of the perks of the job - out just after dawn to spend several hours wandering across the reserve. I have to confess that levering myself out of bed at 0500 is a bit of an effort, but once I'm out it's a different matter! We did have to wait a little this morning for the fog to lift, but from c.6 am, it was beautiful. What can be better than striding through the dewy grass with displaying redshank, lapwing and (particularly obvious this morning on the Flood) black-tailed godwit all around? You too can experience this on our "Displaying Waders" guided walk on Saturday 23rd. Please book through the North Kent Marshes office (01634 222480). Cost is £3 for RSPB members & £5 for non-members. We're not asking you to get up at 5am either - it's from 10 - 1.
Selected highlights from today included: still 3 spoonbills on the Flood for most of the day, as well as a little stint with 15 dunlin & 75 turnstone at Wellmarsh + 5 spotted redshank, 25 black-tailed godwit, 4 ruff and a late golden plover. Elsewhere up to 6 whimbrel, a couple of snipe & a greenshank. Large numbers of Med gulls continue to be seen, with at least one 3-figure flock; 2 seperate male bearded tits in areas of reed, buzzard, 2 hobby, a couple of water rail, 3 wheatear and good numbers of sedge warbler & a few reed warbler in song. 2 pairs of garganey were on the pool system behind Kingshill Farm. Lots of butterflies around - small tortoiseshell, red admiral & peacock the commonest, with several orange tips around the Kingshill Farm garden.