Thursday, 6 May 2010

Harbour patrol

Today I joined the Sevenoaks RSPB group on a trip to Rye Harbour. Great bunch of people and a lovely sunny day. Oh, and I 'borrowed' the D300, plus 70-300 and the Bigmos. Found that I managed quite well carrying the camera with the shorter zoom, got the Bigmos out to use in the hides.

On the first section of the walk, we saw a couple of smart Wheatears around the wader scrape, with a few Avocets and a nice sum-plum Dunlin on the scrape itself. Then on to the Ternery Pool.

There are hundreds of Black-headed Gulls nesting here, making a hell of a racket. The other nesting birds (including Med Gulls and Common and Sandwich Terns) are quite sidelined. However, near-total domination isn't enough to stop predation. I took several photos of a bit of a commotion over one of the islands, but it wasn't til I got home and looked at the pics that I realised what was going on - a Lesser Black-back making off with an unfortunate Black-headed chick.

There was a veritable conveyer belt of Sandwich Terns commuting between the pool and the sea. I waited by the path and took lots of photos. This was the only one I decided to keep. More practice needed...

This was a bit of a surprise - Cuckoo apparently 'in off'. Hopefully it will busy itself munching through some of the sizeable Brown-tail caterpillar webs adorning the pathside bushes.

Once we turned in from the sea and headed towards the Long and Narrow Pits, we entered Warbler Central. Dominating the scene were the many Whitethroats, singing lustily from bramble bushes, but the wetter spots held Reed, Sedge and Cetti's Warblers. I include this poor photo of Mr Sedgie because I enjoyed his rollicking, wildly energetic and completely incoherent song so much.

Winding our way back towards the car park via several small new pools, we met several Med Gulls which were desperate to be photographed, and hung in the breeze with such obliging stillness that even I couldn't screw up every shot I attempted. Love the fact you can see its wing-bones.

Birds of prey were thin on the ground, but this Kestrel clutching its Slow-worm supper was a welcome treat. The gulls didn't think so, and gave it an almighty mobbing, which proved rather difficult to photograph.

We saw a few other bits and bobs. Nice views of Reed Bunting. A little group of Whimbrels. Numerous Redshanks, Oystercatchers and Shelducks, a few Gadwalls and a pair of Shovelers. Many Swallows, all of them stubbornly non-Red-rumped. One Swift (to go with the one Swift I saw yesterday). Mistle Thrush. Linnet. Skylark. Ooh, and Hairy Dragonfly. All in all, a most enjoyable day.


Anonymous said...

Love the Med Gull photo. Be careful with those big lenses; I foolishly did a 9 mile walk with my 90-300 on my SLR, hanging around my neck. My neck felt quite bruised the next day!

Marianne said...

I know what you mean! I'm used to carrying a pretty hefty pair of binoculars round my neck all day, but adding the DSLR made things considerably worse. I definitely couldn't do it with the 150-500mm (Bigmos) lens, partly because of the weight and partly because I wouldn't be happy to let it just dangle there supported entirely by the camera mount, so would need to support it with one hand. But I need my hands free to use my bins! Maybe it's time to get that extra arm grafted on...