|Posted on April 28, 2012 at 4:15 PM|
I headed out early on my own in search of summer migrants. I'd planned to spend perhaps 20 minutes at Sevenoaks looking for Little-ringed Plover and then head off either to the Stour Valley, probably Grove Ferry, or Dungeness.
It was only 4 degrees C when I left home and it felt rather un-spring like. It was overcast and threatening rain.
I got to Sevenoaks around 0700 and found the car park empty. Within a few minutes I was watching a couple of Little-ringed Plovers from the Tyler Hide and listening to displaying Lapwing. Towards the back of the main lake I could see a few hirundines and decided I'd take a walk down that way. A careful look around revealed another pair of LRP's and as I was about to walk away when another one flew in calling.
As I walked down towards the old tower hide a few Chiffchaff's were singing and from the bluff overlooking the main lake I picked out a handfull of Swallows and around 10 Sand Martin. From the hide below the tower I found a pair of LRP's which were coming close enough to warrant photographing and so my quick visit began to stretch out. A pair of Egyptian Geese were feeding on the grass, I always seem to see them here now - looks like they are firmly established as a breeding species in Kent.
The weather began to improve and birdsong got louder and stronger. I wandered around to the other side of the reserve and found a few male Blackcap's that looked quite recent arrivals. As the sun broke through I was enjoying the birding too much to rush away so I ended up spending over 4 hours at Sevenoaks.
Little-ringed Plover -male
Little-ringed Plover -female
Chiffchaff carrying nesting material
Wren - look at the effort it makes singing it's head off!
I decided to head to Sheppey next and concentrate on Elmley.
I arrived just before mid-day and slowly drove down the track checking every post and hummock and scanning the marsh. One thing was very evident; it's mid-April and the place looks parched. Aside from the large ditches everywhere you looked it was dry, the ground cracked and hard.
I can't imagine many lapwing or redshank chicks being reared here this year unless something major happens. It was distinctly far quieter than usual - just a few lapwing and the odd redshank. A few male Yellow Wagtail shone like gold on the parched grassland, it looks like being a tough breeding season for them here too.
A few Wheatear were also present and when I got to Kingshill Farm I found 3 on the roof of the barn and just below the farmhouse behind the "new" scrape was a group of 7. Time was too short for me to get to the hides so I concentrated my time on the area around the farm noting a single Swallow but no little owls. Behind the farmhouse on the grazing marsh over 100 Mediterranean Gulls were making a heck of a noise, nearly all adults this sight seems to have become a feature of spring here on Sheppey.
On the way out I had 4 or 5 Common Buzzard's circling high with a few Marsh Harrier's.
Starling - adult male with a blue-grey base to the bill
After photographing some stunning Starling's by the farm at the start of the track I headed off for a quick look at Capel Fleet.
On Capel Fleet I found a further c10 Wheatear and a single Short-eared Owl. Overhead Marsh Harrier's and Buzzard's displayed.
An unpromising morning had developed into a rather lovely day.