Saturday, 21 February 2015

Richard's Pipit and Barn Owls in Kent

The day started with a short trip from home to Tower Hamlet's Cemetery in search of Firecrests.
Soon after parking up in Southern Grove, we are entering Sanctuary Wood. This has been quite a reliable spot for Firecrests in recent times. But despite searching the wood for close to two hours there was no sign of any this morning. 
We decided to head back up the path and try some of the other glades. Reaching the crossroads we stopped to check the map. While doing this I suddenly heard a Firecrest singing from the tree right next to us. A brief movement from within the tree and the Firecrest is found. It soon moved on across the glade into Horse Chestnut Glade. Luckily it stayed close to the front of the glade and began searching for food among the ivy covered trees and gravestones.

Lunchtime arrived and we headed for Kent. A brief drive along the entrance track at Elmley in search of the re-identified Wood Sandpiper from yesterday failed to produce any sightings.
Plenty of Lapwings, Redshanks, Golden Plover and Curlew around with smaller numbers of Dunlin, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwits, Turnstones and Skylarks Several Marsh Harriers were also hunting the surrounding fields.

Leaving Elmley we headed for Shell Ness/Swale NNR, hoping to connect with the Richard's Pipit that has been present for a few weeks. Walking along the grass bank towards the favoured areas a Short-eared Owl flew up from below the bank and headed across the channel into the nearby field. It landed briefly before resuming it's search for food. The same field held a group of Brent Geese.
The Richard's Pipit had been seen shortly before we had arrived, but had disappeared from view. Walking further along the bank two birds were seen, one looked good for Rock Pipit and the second bird was the Richard's Pipit.
It flew up over the bank straight over Brian's head calling as it went. It seemed to drop down close to the channel bordering the field. Another search of the area failed to locate the bird again and with time pressing we decided to move on to Capel Fleet.

Nearly the end of February I had still not seen a Barn owl this year. Half way along the road leading to the viewing platform that changed.
Up out of the grass came a Barn owl, then a second bird joined it. We spent the next two hours enjoying these birds hunting. They seemed to be catching prey regularly and even a brief but heavy rain shower didn't stop them from hunting. Several Marsh harriers were also seen coming in to roost and the Corn Bunting flock were also seen perched among the usual bushes before they also went to roost.
The Barn Owls were showing constantly during the two hours, but the weather was not cooperating with the camera. 

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