The rain finally arrived at Elmley on Thursday afternoon - only showers, but some of them heavy enough to make a difference. We got just over 10mm, which wasn't enough to wet up areas that have dried out, but will keep the remaining wet bits wet a bit longer. Crucial for the many wader chicks that are now present across the reserve. The rain had cleared Friday morning, so I was able to get out to survey the saltmarsh section of the reserve down at Spitend: the expected redshanks, reed buntings & meadow pipits + a single pair of yellow wagtail. The rising tide had pushed a few waders into Windmill Creek, with totals of 90 grey plover, 40 dunlin & 16 bar-tailed godwit. I could hear a little tern calling somewhere, but didn't see it.
Then back to Kingshill Farm for the interviews for Nat's replacement when she heads off to Dungeness in July. A large field of applicants had been whittled down to a final 5 & I'll now have the weekend to mull over who to offer the post to - not an easy decision.
While Nat was out checking the livestock, she saw an Egyptian goose out near Spitend - a rare bird at Elmley. Despite the species status as a bit of an avian minger, I had a look for it in the evening, as it's a species that I've yet to get on my "Elmley list", but no joy. Just the returning spoonbill, back from it's jaunt across the Swale. On this occasion, I'd have happily swapped it for a hotch-potch goose! Garganey are an altogether more pleasing breed of wildfowl and there were still two drakes on the pools behind Kingshill Farm during the day. The barn owl was also out hunting early again today & I suspect that the pair must be feeding growing youngsters for them to have been tempted out in daylight. There's also still a cuckoo, a single singing corn bunting and a regular flock of over 20 Med gulls around the farm. Other highlights included a common sandpiper, hobby, buzzard and a very late merlin. Broods of humbug-like shelducklings are now appearing all over the reserve - I've seen 5 or 6 in the last couple of days, with anything up to 11 ducklings in a brood.
I've tried to bring some rain back with me from the Lake District, but I don't appear to have been too successful so far. Sorry! We had 72mm in 2 days and it rained pretty heavily almost every day so I'm sure that figure rose quite a bit. Some parts were getting even more rain than that. Hopefully this north/south divide in the weather will break this week and we'll finally get enough to top up the reserve for those wader chicks.
The rain didn't spoil the holiday though and I saw my first Coal Tit and also an Osprey (and in flight too) albeit from a fair distance away. As well as some of, in my opinion, the best scenery in England. Next time I'm determined to get up some of the mountains (Scafell and Scafell Pike) as the views must be astounding from them!