Sunday, 11 December 2011

Sheppey - December 10th (Owl fest!)

Who would have thought a few months ago when we arranged a trip to Sheppey that the day was going to be so nice, after strong winds in the week as well, the weather was a real bonus. We set off at 7am from Sissinghurst, us being Wendy, John, Rachel, Pete and myself, we then met Dave at Elmley just before 8am. A drive along the entrance track produced just one MARSH HARRIER and an obliging KESTREL. We did a short walk through the farm yard and almost immediately picked up our first SHORT EARED OWL of the day just below Kingshill Farm. We stayed for around half an hour, the Owl was very active almost all that time, we added a few ducks, finches and thrushes from here before we headed off to Shellness point. The BRENT GEESE were next to the track down to the hamlet, with a few LAPWINGS and GOLDEN PLOVER for company. We walked to the point to check out the wader roost, before we got too far our second SHORT EARED OWL of the day lifted from the salt marsh and eventually disappeared over the seawall.

We checked the mouth of the Swale and found about 15 COMMON SCOTER, with a few hundred MALLARD and several TEAL. The waders in the roost were the usual mix of KNOT, BAR TAILED GODWIT, with one very light grey individual, OYSTERCATCHER, DUNLIN and a few scattered TURNSTONE, GREY PLOVER and SANDERLING. On the salt marsh were around 30-40 CURLEW, many REDSHANK and the odd LITTLE EGRET.

We made our way back to the car park for a walk along the seawall, a distant HEN HARRIER was our first of the day and a calling LAPLAND BUNTING was new for a couple of our party as it flew west. On the way back to the car a MERLIN shot out from a bush in front of us and more owls started to appear near the car park and over the fields south of Muswell Manor, at least 4 were seen giving good views and occasionally coming together hissing loudly at each other as they tangled claws, fantastic! We got 2 more owls at Muswell Manor, hunting behind the houses, taking the total for the day to a possible 7!! On Capel Corner we picked up SNIPE and a distant BARN OWL.

Red Legged Partridge and Mute Swans - Capel Corner.

The Raptor viewpoint was our final stop, as we approached 2 more SEO's appeared one right next the car, following the ditch, probably the best views of the day, in all we saw at least another 4 birds making the total for the day a conservative 11!!! At times they seemed to be the only birds around, one appearing as another dropped out of sight, a truly memorable day! The viewpoint also gave us our only PEREGRINE of the day 2 SPARROWHAWKS and 30 or so CORN BUNTINGS, along with several sightings of probably just one female HEN HARRIER. Finally we headed home after 4pm as the temperature dropped. Got a bit carried away with the photos!!


John said...

Hi Alan,
Lovely photos! Particularly like the second to last one! I do like Sanderling, little windy-up birds!

Adam said...

Wow! Had planned to be up there myself yesterday but it just never worked out! What a day - need to get up there before Christmas! Great photos.


alan woodcock said...

Hi,sheppey very rarely fails to please,nice photos.

Christian said...

Hi Alan

Wow! Brilliant post and I adore the silhouetted owls shot. It's brilliant - beautiful movement and the clarity on those talons is superb. I wish I'd taken that!

Paul said...

Some great photos there mate, Sheppey is certainly a cracking day out.

Steve Ashton said...

Nice account Alan, I wish I was as lucky with the Owls the other side of the Swale. I will have to venture onto the Island for SEO photos by the look of it.

Bob Bushell said...

Cracking photos you had taken, brilliant.

Greenie said...

Alan ,
Nice when a planned trip works out like that .
Brilliant shots , I too like the 'upside down' one . said...

What a nice set of pics!! and as always (sorry if I say always de same) incrtedible owl flying in day light!

Alan Pavey said...

Hi John, thanks, I really enjoy watching the Sanderling and Turnstones doing their thing, I wasn't sure if the owl pic was going come out, that was a bit of luck.

Hi Adam, thanks, it was certainly a good day to go up to Sheppey, it was great to share it the 5 who came with me. I hope you get up there soon, I'll be going back at least once this winter.

Hi Alan, thanks, I couldn't agree more Sheppey always leaves me feeling like I got a lot out of the day.

Hi Christian, thank you, the owls performed really well, I do feel I've got to back for more it was quite magical, I aspire to some of your shots, I had to get rid of loads of rubbish before I came across the lucky shot of them both together :-)

Hi Paul, thank you, I've visited Sheppey for over 30 years now and some of my stand out memories are from there.

Hi Steve, thanks, I thought your SEO from Oare was a great shot, you would have had a field day with the birds on Sheppey, I look forward to seeing what you get when visit :-)

Hi Bob, thank you, I'm pleased you liked the photos.

Hi Greenie, thank you, it's always hit and miss planning in advance, you need a bit of luck especially for the winter trips!

Hi El Campero Inquieto,
Thank you, don't worry about writing the same things, I appreciate anyone taking the time to comment on any of my posts, Saludos!!

Mike H said...

Hi Alan, Looks like you had a great day off patch. The weather certainly was great on Saturday. Looks like you had a good time with the camera some great Owl shots will have to get back there on a sunny day. Mike

Ramón Suárez said...

Hola Alan. Algunas fotos son geniales. ¡Me encantan!

Phil said...

A fantastic day and some fantastic photos Alan. Really excellent stuff!

Warren Baker said...

A classic winters day Alan, it'll be a long time before that gets repeated :-)

Some excellent camera work, I especially like the sparing owls :-)

Alan Pavey said...

Hi Mike, thanks, it was a beautiful day and well worth a trip especially when the weather is like it was Saturday!!

Hola Ramon, muchas gracias por tu comentario, Saludos!!

Hi Phil, thanks, it couldn't have been much better, all the birds played ball!!

Hi Warren, thanks, it was a great winters day birding, I enjoyed having a go at some pics!!

Rachel J said...

It was a brilliant day!!! Even if it was freezing :) Really appreciate your efforts to find us quality birds; your stamina, optimism and enthusiasm know no bounds! Thank you!!

Alan Pavey said...

Hi Rach, Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it, that temperature did drop quickly when we were on the viewpoint!!

- Yvonaut -
Das sind Raphael und Yvonne

Hi Alan

Lovely pictures of all these different birds!
I love the reflections on the water! Amazing!!

Greetings and have a nice weekend!
Yvonne & Raphael

Alan Pavey said...

Hi Yvonne and Raphael, thank you, it was a lovely day.

I hope you both have a great weekend too :-)

Mary Marfleet said...

Hi Alan - what a brilliant write-up of what was obviously a fantastic day, plus STUNNING pictures. I can't quite believe I missed an opportunity like this (all those owls too!) Would loved to have been there! :0)

Alan Pavey said...

Hi Mary, thank you, it was a great day and we were very lucky to see so much. I'll be in touch with some dates for the New Year!!