Monday, 3 February 2014

I'm back and so's my camera - Shellness

Hello all. Well, it took Nikon quite a while to return my camera, presumably because I sent it off just before Christmas. But now it's back, and I took it to Sheppey yesterday to make the most of the sunshine. I went with Rob, having beguiled him with tales (and photos) of the monster high-tide roost that Phil and I had enjoyed there a few weeks ago.

Rob stopped at Leysdown to buy some lunch, and while I was waiting I sat on the sea wall and watched a few Black-headed Gulls as they chased the flies that were resting on the warm concrete. This one came quite close to me in its fly-quest, and my photos show it caught several. Its hood is almost complete - an early sign of spring.

We drove on to Shellness and walked the very boggy track to the shore - not a problem for me as I was wearing my brand spanking new wellies. But the view at the end was disappointing - quiet sea and shore, nothing like the numbers of my last visit. It was nearly high tide, and on the spit beyond the blockhouse there was a dark huddle of mostly Oystercatchers, but very little else was happening.

A Common Seal took pity on us and swam past closeish. Not nearly as close as the seal I'd seen at Leysdown, but sadly that had turned out not to be a seal at all but a dog. This was at least the real thing.

I walked off towards the spit after that, to see if there was any way to get a clear view of the birds out there. The point itself was roped off - the signs said this was because it has breeding Little Terns. Well, not in January it doesn't... but it's just as important to keep the roosting flock safe from disturbance. Once I was past the point and could look back on it in good light I could see the Oyks quite well, but they were mostly asleep and not terribly inspiring as photographic subjects.

I did keep an eye on the big field on the way to the point and back, hoping for a Hen Harrier, but all I got was a Shelduck, and a small flock of Skylarks. A few distant Brents went by on the far side.

A jet-skier went by in the Swale, which didn't bother the Oyks but disturbed some other waders which must have been roosting out of sight. They went up and flew about before returning. Here are some Bar-tailed Godwits...

... and here are some Knots, with a couple more Barwits.

I rejoined Rob and found him photographing a Turnstone that was unconcernedly pottering on the shoreline, a couple of metres from his feet. I didn't know the Sigmonster focused that close... I joined in and took lots of shots of this obliging bird, and the two friends that then joined it.

Lovely little birds. I know they are not exactly difficult to find or photograph but they were a bit of a day-saver for us.

A few waders flew by over the sea after that but the only ones I managed to get my lens onto were this party of Ringed Plovers and Sanderlings. Proof that one in two of all Shellness waders are blurry :) It was by now about 3pm and we decided to go to Elmley for the last bit of daylight, and just drive down the track and back.

There were quite a few Brown Hares on show from the Elmley track, including this one which was sitting very near the track, busily chewing its heels.

Also, lots of Lapwings. But very, very little else. We reached the end, turned around and headed back. It was on the way back that we got lucky with a sighting of a Short-eared Owl, not the easiest bird to find this winter. It was nearly dark by now so the photos are, of course, dire, but here they are anyway.


Phil said...

Welcome back Marianne. Camera seems to be performing well! Shame that Shellness didn't quite live up to expectations on the day.

Shane said...

Hi Marianne, Karen and I were toying with a drive to Elmley Sunday but decided against it but I'm glad you and Rob saw a fair bit.

P.S bet it feels good behind the viewfinder again?