Wednesday, 4 January 2012

A Real Treat

I could count on the fingers of one hand the number opportunities I normally get in a year to go birding on my own for a whole day - and still have plenty of fingers left. So today was quite a treat for me. And the location? The Isle of Sheppey.

I headed first for Elmley, left (you can see the bridge onto Sheppey in the distance). Today was also a recce to check access around Sheppey and at Elmley and you can drive someone in a wheelchair, down the lengthy track to the first hide. But the walk has its compensations, giving me views of Marsh Harriers and a Buzzard hunting over the fields and sending up flocks of Lapwings and a few Golden Plover.

I had the whole hide to myself and had great views of Marsh Harriers, Kestrels, a pair of Stonechats and of course, plenty of wildfowl.

In the afternoon, I checked out Shellness at the far end of Sheppey and found an excellent parking area that would allow (as it's quiet in Winter) for me to park our van side-on to the beach.  When we can do this, Thomas turns his wheelchair sideways in the van with the side door open so that he can sea-watch in comfort! Also, the shoreline here was great for Waders and Gulls.

As it started to get dark (all too early this time of year!) I headed back toward the middle of Sheppey, on the way I nearly ran over a small covey of Red-legged Partridges scurrying across the road. I made my way to the Raptor Watchpoint along Harty Ferry Road and joined another hopeful birder. The guy there, told me how he had seen up to eight Short-eared Owls there just before Christmas (there's been quite an influx from the continent this year) but although we scanned hard we saw neither Short-eared Owl or Hen Harrier. But I was very content watching a Merlin dash down the Fleet and see at least five Marsh Harriers gliding in to roost in the fading light.


  1. Sounds like you had a great day, Jerry, and in a great area. The car park at Shellness has produced some good birds in the bushes over the years and even the parking bays between Leysdown and Shellness can be good for seawatching.
    Hope you get Thomas's wheechair fixed soon.

  2. Thanks for the tips Graham, it was such a long time that I was last on Sheppey and I couldn't visualise how I'd get on up there with Thomas. Good news on the chair front - It was repaired and brought back to us this morning and Thomas is already back at college.