Monday, 24 August 2009

Elmley RSPB, Kingdom of the Raptors

Living in Kent and especially North Kent we're very fortunate to have some great RSPB reserves, home to huge numbers of birds in some quiet corners out on the marshes and over the years have had their fair share of rarities. One such reserve is Elmley RSPB, and on entering this reserve along the new motorway entrance track, well I say motorway, it is nowadays compared to the late 1970's when it was like driving 'or cycling' along a dirt track complete with the Big Dipper ' a frequent occurrence' and Land Rover style manoeuvering around the potholes...........happy days!!! Over the years I've seen Wryneck, RB Shrike, Cattle Egret, Dotterel, Sharp-tailed Sand, Semi-p Sand, oodles of Marsh Sands, White-rumped Sand, countless Pecs, Stilts, Oriental and Collared Prat, etc etc and not forgetting the ever popular Pallid Harrier. But today I was looking for Montagu's Harrier, and it would appear to be a good year this year, with many sightings in Southern England. On arrival I casually wandered past the Asio invisiblis that lives in the orchard at Kingshill to a small group of birders looking at an empty piece of marshland. Fortunately it wasn't long before both the juv and the 2nd sum Monti's put in an appearance and showed well at times as the following photos will show, 'don't get too jealous' of my photographic prowess!

I eventually reached the hide known locally as Southfleet, one of the nearer hides and much nearer than Spit end ' the Carn Near of Sheppey' or Swale Hide. I have many memories of Southfleet or the double decker as we used to call it where I've been fortunate enough once again to tick off such celebs as Bill Oddie, Frank Thornton 'Mr Peacock from Are You being served and of course not forgetting Gibbo, the Meteorologist!! As a double decker it had a certain appeal to it, cramped, creaky, and in a big twitch on a sunny day a certain sweet smell of stale sweat and Darth Vader heavy breathing as the hordes arrived breathless from their long walk and the car park. Today though was predicted to be a HUGE high tide with possibilities untold, and luckily on arrival I secured my position in the hide before it filled up.
Lapwing, Ruff and a Red box, mega
A scenic shot with incidental Montis' 2nd sum bird as can clearly be seen with the barred tail, grey washed head, white inner primaries
A close up of the juv Monti's clearly showing it not to be a Pallid and ample identification points can be seen in this piccie.
Elmley is a mega spot for Raptors, with at differing times of the year and historically, 4 sp of Harrier, RL Buzzard, White-tailed Eagle, and great place to see Peregrine and Merlin. In the next blog we'll visit another fantastic RSPB reserve in North Kent, or Jim Bowen's Reserve as I like to call it?


Gavin Haig said...

Gripping snaps, Barry! David Tipling rarely produces such nice hide interiors. :o)

Barry said...

Hi Gavin
Nice Ortolan by the way, shame about the big Swift!! David Tipling I'm sure would be proud of a hide photo like that, I wonder if Gilleard Brothers are the only hide manufacturers in the UK?