Thursday, 30 October 2014

An unexpected day out 25/10

Waking early Saturday and checking that there weren't any pressing chores to do!, had me thinking where could I go, Yellow Billed Cuckoo? Surf Scoter.. Norfolk??? I'm not as adventurous as I used to be so settled for a day on Sheppey, always a favourite of mine.
Arriving at the NNR reserve at around 7.15am, the gate was locked but the sign said open at 7am I decided to climb the stile and walk a 100yds down the track and watch the sunrise, whilst waiting for the reserve to open, I was kept company by a couple of REED BUNTINGS and a STONECHAT. A KINGFISHER called several times and my first BRAMBLING of the autumn flew over calling and heading south-west. An early Buzzard drifted through the mist and a Fox was very active hunting in the long grass. The gates eventually opened at 8am by which time I had racked up nearly 30 species.
Along the entrance track more Stonechats were seen plus at least 6 MARSH HARRIERS. Several people were looking for the Long Eared Owl/s in the orchard but it or they were not roosting in sight. From the screen on the bank a flock of AVOCET were added and further along the track I heard the 'ping ping' of BEARDED TITS which drew my attention, and a nice male showed well with others moving around in the background.
Before heading towards the hides a brief stop and chat with another birder, who had just had a WHEATEAR in the fields, this prompted a quick scan which found 2 birds, one of my latest sightings. A hundred plus GOLDEN PLOVER dropped into the fields while I was here, another the first of the autumn for me.
I then did something I don't remember doing before, I walked to Spit End, as the tide was coming in, there were plenty of waders and several Marsh Harriers to be seen, the highlight though was a PEREGRINE taking a wader from the many gathered at the waters edge, may not have been a highlight for the wader though! On the long hike back I stopped in South Hide where there was not a single wader to be seen despite the tide being a fair way in.
Next stop was a short drive and a brief look at the sea at Leysdown not much doing apart from the odd TURNSTONE, so on to the raptor watchpoint along the road from Capel Fleet, I sat and had a quick coffee listening to Liverpool struggle against Hull, when two birds flew by which turned out to be a Marsh Harrier chasing a SHORT EARED OWL, I could just watch these birds for hours, I parked at the edge of one of  larger passing spaces and waited the bird came passed on a number occasions in lovely light, I can never get exactly what I am after but below are some of the images I got, probably as good as I have had of these great birds so far. The final highlight was a ring tail HEN HARRIER that a couple of guys had been watching which I picked out flying next to the SEO, which had moved closer to Capel Fleet, a really enjoyable day out, always better when unexpected :-)

Male Bearded Tit


Short-Eared Owl - overload


Warren Baker said...

A superb day out Alan :-) You're right about the light in those photo's - perfect!

Maria said...

A wonderful day it is!
Great captures of the OWL in flight!
And the photo of the Turnstone have lovely colors. And the Bearded Tit is adorable!

Mike Attwood said...

Now thats what I call a great day out Alan.

Mike H said...

Nice shots of that SEO Alan, glad to see that you are able to get out and about again.

Helma said...

Ohhhhhh ......... your beard male is already great but you encounter with the owl is truly spectacular. I am quite a bit jlaoers at these pictures of the beautiful owl. My compliments Alan.