Posts Tagged ‘Capel Fleet’

A day on the Isle of Sheppey with Keith and Dave. The Isle of Sheppey lies in the Thames estuary and is connected to the north Kent coast by a bridge. Surrounded by water it is a birding hotspot in the South-East. Unfortunately, it is also poorly served by public transport and so not somewhere I can get to regularly.

The weather forecast was not promising as Dave picked Keith and me up at Gillingham. Our first stop was Funton Creek, on the mainland side of the Swale, the stretch of water which separates Sheppey from the mainland. Here the birds were distant as the tide was not as far in as we had expected. There were a variety of wading and waterbirds present but the stars were the large party of Northern Pintail, the drakes showing well in their fresh plumage even at distance.

Sadly many people view these wild spots as just a rubbish dump!

Onto Sheppey and a stop at Capel Fleet, where we saw Marsh Harrier, Kestrel and Buzzard plus a good number of Corn Buntings (this is one of the best sites in the SE), a pair of Stonechats and heard a singing Cettis Warbler.

At the eastern end of the island is the Shelness national nature reserve, where there was a good number of waders roosting on the beach including Oystercatcher, Red Knot, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Sanderling and Turnstone. Further out on the marsh there were large flocks of Brent Geese.

Our final stop was at Harty Ferry, so-called because it was the site of a ferry between Sheppey and Oare until 1941. On the way down to the ferry, we see large numbers of Red-legged Partridge on the fields. The tide is now well in and large numbers of Bar-tailed Godwits are the last waders on what remains of the saltmarsh or at least that what it seems. Suddenly, a large flock of Common Snipe take to the air, perhaps 40 or 50 in number and is that a smaller snipe in with them, a Jack Snipe perhaps? Sadly they flew off and we were unable to confirm it. A Barn Owl and a Short-Eared Owl were seen briefly but I didn’t see either of them. The star of the day though was the female Hen Harrier, which flew across the Marsh in front of us. This used to be the commonest of our two Harrier species but is no much rarer than its reed-bed cousin, the Marsh Harrier due to persecution and destruction of its moorland breeding habitat.

Hen Harrier (f)
Photo by Lorenzo Magnus ( https://www.flickr.com/photos/lorenzo-l-m/ )

A Brown Hare had obviously been caught out by the rising tide as we saw it ‘swimming’ back to the dry land through the flooded saltmarsh.

Time for a coffee at the Harty Ferry Inn and then the drive back to Gillingham. Thanks to Keith and Dave for a great day out.

North Kent Marshes

A beautiful day and the chance to spend it birdwatching with Keith and Dave visiting various sites on the North Kent Marshes.

We started at the Strand in Gillingham where keen eyes spotted a Peregrine Falcon perched atop the gas holder. Then onto Funton Creek where there was a distant large flock of Pied Avocet (c200), some Redshank and Pintail. A late Red Admiral fluttered by – a sign of increasing temperature

DSC03470a

Then onto Capel Fleet on the Isle of Sheppy where we saw Marsh Harrier and Buzzard patrolling the marshes and some excellent views of Stonechat in the reed-bed although unfortunately no sign of the Bearded Tits that had been seen earlier that morning. Perhaps the best bird was the small flock of Corn Buntings perched on the wires as these are becoming increasingly difficult to find in Southern England.

DSC03483a
Buzzard


Corn Bunting
By Zeynel Cebeci (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Next stop was at Harty Ferry on the Swale, the strip of water which divides the Isle of Sheppey from the Kentish Mainland. Here there were a large flock of Brent Geese as well as Turnstone, Godwits and Curlew. A Common Darter was also patrolling the salt marsh.

Brent Geese at Harty Ferry

Brent Geese at Harty Ferry

Little Egret at Harty Ferry

Little Egret at Harty Ferry

Female Common Darter

Female Common Darter

Returning via Capel Fleet we were treated to a prolonged sighting of a Short Eared Owl as it sparred with a Buzzard. The flock of Corn Buntings on the wires now numbered over 20


Short-Eared Owl
By Kathy & sam from Beaverton (Short-eared Owl – Ruh-red Road – 1) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Final stop of the day was Elmley NNR where more species were added to the days list including a large party of Golden Plover and a smaller party of Ringed Plover, but the highlight of which was a second sighting of Short-Eared Owl

Elmley Marsh

Elmley Marsh

Mallard and Teal

Mallard and Teal

An excellent days birdwatching both from the number of species seen and foe the views we had of the birds. The highlights for me were Short-Eared Owl and Corn Bunting.

Red-legged Partridge [sp] (Alectoris rufa)
Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Brent Goose [sp] (Branta bernicla)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Peregrine Falcon [sp] (Falco peregrinus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
European Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)
Grey Plover [sp] (Pluvialis squatarola)
Common Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Bar-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa lapponica)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Ruddy Turnstone [sp] (Arenaria interpres)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mew Gull [sp] (Larus canus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Short-eared Owl [sp] (Asio flammeus)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
European Stonechat [sp] (Saxicola rubicola)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
Eurasian Rock Pipit [sp] (Anthus petrosus)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Corn Bunting [sp] (Emberiza calandra)

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)