Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Elmley, Easter Monday

Seduced by talk of Merlins, Little Gulls and Yellow Wagtails on the KOS website, I suggested Elmley Marshes for our outing today. It was cloudy again, with the BBC forecast cheerily promising a steady improvement to blinding sunshine by mid-afternoon.

The access track came up trumps for us. Lots of birds around, many of them really close to the car. I remarked that the reserve itself would probably be a big let-down, and so it was, photographically speaking. Here's some of the stuff we saw on the way in. First, a Redshank who picked its way along a flooded bit, doing much vigorous bobbing and suspicious eye-balling of the car as it went, but only flying off when another Redshank showed up.

This Lapwing was on my side of the car, and was so close that I could almost have reached out and tidied up its crest for it. Unfortunately, it was too close for Rob to get a pic without including a large section of Passat doorframe, so here's the best pic from the Panasonic. I'm still not allowed to buy myself an SLR...

Even the little birds were gettting in on the act. We had some great close views of Skylarks, and then this splendid fellow. There were piles of horse manure everywhere which I'd speculated had been put down to attract Yellow Wagtails (they eat insects that live in livestock crap) - looks like it worked.

By the reserve car park we found a Kestrel sitting on one of the buildings, keeping out of the wind. On another building was one of those 'terrace' nestboxes with multiple chambers and entrances, built to accomodate several friendly families of House Sparrows. This one had at least one tenant by the looks of things, and the numbers of spuggies in the nearby patch of scrub suggested there could be more.

Out on the reserve, we saw numerous Meadow Pipits, Little Egrets, Skylarks, Reed Buntings, a couple of Marsh Harriers, Oystercatchers, Redshanks, Shelducks, Canada Geese, etc etc. Views from the hides were not great though and nothing much came within camera-range. One thing that did was this stroppy Avocet, which circled above us giving a volley of curiously canine yapping calls.

And that was about it. No real sunshine to speak of today, and we didn't go anywhere but home in the evening. Next Saturday we're off to Malta to do the Springwatch camp, which promises to be a dramatic change of pace...

Oh, by the way, Rob discovered today that the Bigmos lens is back-focusing. He thinks he's corrected for it now in the D300's settings, but that would be why some of the recent pics aren't as sharp as they should be. Maybe in the summer we'll send the lens back to Sigma and see if it can be fixed/replaced.

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