Saturday, 13 October 2012

Elmley Marshes, Harris Hawk

A morning visit to Kent today, and first stop is Elmley Marshes.
Pulling off the road and making our way along the track, we flush a female Marsh harrier from the grass quite close to the car.
Scanning the fence posts as we head towards the car park, produces a very smart looking Merlin. We watch it until it takes flight and heads low and fast away to the West.
We reach the car park and head off down the track, past the gate to the orchard area. Here I spend the next hour trying to locate the Long-eared owl that was showing well the previous week.
But after scanning every tree, bush and any other piece of likely looking habitat I have to admit defeat and head back to the car park with only 20+ Curlews to show for it.
A scan of the fields behind the toilet block produces plenty of Golden Plovers, Lapwing, Canada and Greylag Geese, along with good numbers of Teal and a single Wigeon is found.
A further scan picks out another Merlin and shortly afterwards it's joined by a second bird. 
Harris hawk

A brief break in the cloud and a spell of brighter weather sees House Martins appear in big numbers. There's also 4-5 Chiffchaffs feeding in the nearby bushes.

Heading back down the track we flush a Kestrel and then a Marsh harrier from the grass close by.Two Buzzards are seen perched on fence posts, the first is a Common Buzzard, with  the other bird looking more interesting and a good candidate for Rough-Legged.
At the end of the track, we spot a large bird perched on a telegraph pole. First thoughts are it's another  Buzzard, but with bins now trained on the bird we are surprised to find it's a Harris Hawk.
Even though it's an escape, it's still a cracking bird and we watch it for 15-20 minutes before it is mobbed  by a Kestrel.
It decides to head further out into the fields and takes off and then lands on a fence post. Shortly afterwards it takes off again and heads low along the ditch and is lost to view.

From here we head for Capel Fleet and Harty Marshes. There's good numbers of Red-legged Partridge seen in the surrounding fields, but there was to be quite a few less after having reached Capel Fleet we watched a shoot taking place on the top fields, where plenty of birds were being flushed and then blasted out of the air.

At Harty Marshes we watch another three Marsh harriers and a single Buzzard scanning the surrounding area for a meal. There's also large numbers of Knot and Golden Plover present along the waters edge. 50+ Shelduck take to the air and numerous Little Egrets are also counted.

The weather stays the same for much of the time, being grey and overcast with short brighter sunny intervals.

Another very enjoyable few hours spent watching some great birds.

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