Monday, 9 December 2013

Deepest Kent

I have to start with an apology to Mike Hook, I promised that the next time we ventured deep into Kent I would e-mail him so that we could meet up. Sorry Mike, we sat outside my gate dithering about where to go today, West or East and finally Martin decided that we would again chase White Fronted Geese. 70 WFGs had been reported at Swale, so we left post haste for the Isle of Sheppey.  Road works on the A23 and M25, coupled with mist conspired to delay us but we finally crossed the shiny new bridge and I was filled with anticipation. I had previously told Mike that I hadn't visited Leysdown since 1967 and he told me that it probably hadn't changed much since then. Well Mike you were dead right, it is still the shanty town that I remember from so long ago, not a place to write home about but it does have a certain shabby chic.

The road down to Shell Ness provided a large measure of discomfort but the sign that greeted us was certainly a shock. I don't know which joker put the sign up but it is almost a perfect description of the place, a remote area. If the journey through Leysdown was depressing this forsaken place was the epitome of desolation. Hardly a bird present, just a few Meadow Pipits on the marsh, some lonely Pied Wagtails and 20 or so Shelducks out on the mud.

Dire warnings about deepest Kent

Somewhat crestfallen we made our way back to Elmley, another wide open space with very few birds present. However, I must explain that we only made the long drive to the visitor centre, not to the reserve itself. We passed plenty of Lapwings, Curlew and a handful of Black-tailed Godwits on the way. As we arrived we could see two birders peering intently over the wall, "What have you got?" we enquired. "Two owls in a box" was the reply and we scurried off for the cameras. Not the best of shots of a Barn Owl but I promised I would publish one for the birders who we met.

Thoroughly disheartened, with not many birds to be seen and even less captured by the lens, we decided to complete our foray into Kent at Oare marshes. Our last visit there was brilliant and we anticipated that we would, at last, get something for the blog. Slightly disconcerting was the "road closed" sign on the way in, I guess that the flooding had been fairly serious in these parts, but the barriers had been removed and we could actually get down to the reserve.

Yet again Oare came up with the goods, high water levels meant that most birds had decamped to the flooded fields rather than the customary pool. Lots of Ruff, Teal and Snipe to be photographed. Then, an obliging Water Rail squealed to let us know of its presence and boldly swam across in front of us, rather too close for the lens I fear. Finally a stunning display of a Marsh Harrier quartering the reed beds on the pool. We managed to view several altercations with the resident Crows - great entertainment.




Too close - move away


With the sun slowly sinking in the west and there being insufficient light for any more photography, it was time for home - cracking day after all!


  1. Glad you had a great day out Dave, don't you worry about me stuck for something to do today. !! I could have told you where to see the White fronts as well !! I took a trip to Bough Beech resovoir in the afternoon and saw 19 Goosander and a few Mandarins. All rather distant though you would have needed that big lens of yours. Maybe next time you will give me a bell !! Ha ha .

  2. Thanks Dave for the barn owl shot. (We were the two birders peering over the wall!)
    You have a great blog with so many fantastic photos. We'll keep an eye on you!