Shellness and Elmley, Sheppey, Kent ... 1st September 2010

We set off at 5 a.m. this morning and were at Shellness on the Isle of Sheppey in North Kent before 6 a.m.
On the way from the car park at Shellness hamlet to the point, a female Merlin passed overhead, flying low over the saltmarsh (our first this year). Six Little Egrets flew up from the saltmarsh and disappeared into the distance.

Sunrise over the Swale (Paul)

With very light winds, a falling tide and hardly a ripple on the Swale, it was obvious that seawatching was not going to be very productive, so we concentrated our efforts along the shore.
Twenty plus Sandwich Terns were perched on the groins, or noisily flying along the shoreline, with a couple of Common Terns amongst them.


As is usual at Shellness, plenty of waders were present with around 15 Turnstones, c1500 Oystercatchers, 60+ Curlews, 20+ Black-tailed Godwits, a Bar-tailed Godwit, around 80 Golden Plovers, about 15 Grey Plovers (many still in full summer plumage), 20 Redshanks, 30 Ringed Plovers, c10 Dunlin, and a single Knot. A few Meadow Pipits and Yellow Wagtails were near the Blockhouse, where two Wheatears were also present. A Marsh Harrier was in the distance over the Swale NNR.




The Swale at SHELLNESS. The falling tide meant it was time to move on.

Deciding that we should move on, we headed for Elmley. A Common Buzzard was being mobbed by Carrion Crows along the access track and this bird was seen on two further occasions during our visit. At the RSPB car park, a Cuckoo was a surprise sight flying low through the car park and landing in a tree by the buildings before flying off west. Two Yellow Wagtails were perched on the roof of one building and in the toilet block four young Swallows were still being fed at the nest by busy adults. A Little Owl was in an oak behind Kingshill Farm.



Heading for the Wellmarsh Hide, around ten Yellow Wagtails were seen plus a single Whinchat perched on a gate.


Arriving at the hide, Paul immediately spotted the juvenile Red-necked Phalarope swimming close in front of the hide. We believe that this bird had been present since yesterday. Amazingly, this is the second Red-necked Phalarope we have seen this year at Elmley, the previous one being a female back in May and seen from the same hide on the reserve.




Around 20 Avocets, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits and about 30 Black-tailed Godwits were noted but our target birds (Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint and Wood Sandpiper) remained unseen.
Walking on to the Southfleet Hide, little of note was on show although 4 Ruff and 2 Common Snipe were present.

AVOCET juvenile (Graham)


We headed back to the Counterwall Hide, where a further 5 Common Snipe and several more Avocets were on show. A Hobby was hunting in the distance.
One more stop at the Wellmarsh Hide to watch the juvenile Red-necked Phalarope, saw the four Ruff drop in.


RUFF (Graham)

A total of 6 Green Sandpipers were noted around the reserve and the raptor total for the day wound up at 9 Marsh Harriers, 1 Common Buzzard, 1 female Merlin, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Hobby and 2 Kestrels.
A few Pochards were seen along with 100+ Teal. A Little Egret and two more Wheatears rounded off the visit.

Paul & Graham

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