THIRD AGE BIRDERS'
"The mist was heavier on the marshes - gates and dykes and banks came bursting at me through the mist. the cattle came upon me with like suddenness staring out of their eyes and steaming out of their nostrils - the marshes were positively hellish, illuminated by a large red moon and the air heavy with a sluggish stifling smell".
At Elmley you are not allowed to get out of the car on the drive up for fear of "disturbing the wildlife" so it was windows down and some frantic waving and pointing to the car behind as we frequently stopped our convoy to observe birds from the car windows, twisting ourselves around, down and then up to get the best view - just like the mad, foraging starlings. Our reward for these contortions - red legged partridge fussing about at the gate, majestic marsh harrier treating us to a flypast, picture book flocks of lapwing swooping then flashing black and white, solitary buzzards, harriers and kestrel motionless on fence posts close by and at a distance.
Cars parked- and seen off by chirruping sparrows, we headed down from the farm which now runs this national nature reserve (used to be the RSPB) to the pools, and Swale Estuary. Half a dozen shepherd huts are set atop the hill with commanding views of the reserve from tiny patios - literally "way out" spartan accommodation for the most romantic and warm blooded.
We took the lengthy walk to the first hide. Running along one side of the path is a grass covered sea wall protecting the feeding birds from the disturbing sight of us humans on the prowl with our bins and scopes. The site is extremely exposed; few trees and bushes survive here and most days the slightest wind would be chilling, but now it was a joy to stroll along in the stillness and warm sunshine spotting meadow pipit, kestrel, linnet, skylark and numerous marsh harrier above and dabchick below en route to the hides. Dragonflies and damselflies whirred about in the rough and tumble of mid-air mating, the larger ones could almost be mistaken for small birds.
|Red Legged Partridge|
Here are some more birdy dates for your diary:
Wednesday, 14th November - trip to Cliffe Pools on the Thames Estuary. Morning + lunch- BOOKING NOW
Thursday 13th December - morning only wander around Bough Beech
Friday 14th December - Third Age Birders - Christmas Lunch 12.30 The Old Eden BOOKING NOW