Sunday 13 November 2011

Gloom Free Dawn

Despite getting up as usual just after 5.30 this morning, I hadn't planned to visit the reserve today but a glance out of the window just after 6.00 showed a starlit sky - could we really be looking at a gloom free dawn, too good to be missed, I was off!
The view below was taken over the reserve's barn just as I arrived, a spectacular sight as the light began to increase.

Getting up onto the sea wall this was the dawn view looking across The Swale towards Seasalter.

At first there wasn't a lot of bird activity, a look across the fields to the Shellness track proved that the Rough-legged Buzzard does seem to have moved on and only a couple of Marsh Harriers were gliding low along the sea wall.
However as I made my way across one of the reserve's grazing fields I suddenly hit apon a remarkable treble of birds. Standing in the grass just twenty yards away were five Short-eared Owls, all bunched together shoulder to shoulder. I wondered if they'd roosted overnight like this or were just discussing breakfast, but whatever, they didn't hang around and rose up and began to lazily disperse. As they did, a Great White Egret flew low across the field directly above them and eventually dropped into the Delph fleet alongside the sea wall, where it was yesterday.
I was well chuffed but it hadn't finished yet, just a hundred yards further on a Lapland Bunting flew overhead calling repeatedly - trebles like that don't happen too often and coupled with a beautiful November morning of blue skies and sunshine, it was one to remember. The true essence of simple, solitary bird watching on the same, regular patch and getting the maximum enjoyment from it.
I moved on and with the sun rising higher in the sky it lit up the cattle contentedly grazing in the dewy fields, emphasising that lovely, desolate nature of the marshes that I love so much.

Some even came to say hello.

I was only out for an hour and a half, but what a glorious way to start a day and rounded off back at the barn by three Long-tailed Tits working through the willow trees.


  1. It was a beautiful morning, I'm glad the owls, egret and bunting merit separation from their congeners, it makes it so much more fun!

  2. Tony, it was quite simple and indeed enjoyable, and at least I didn't have to think, was it a northern type or an eastern type.

  3. Quite a sight to see those 5 Owls together, it would have been a great spectacle to show the group I had last week!! Those sky shots are great again, it was a stunning morning.

  4. Unfortunately Alan, as I tried to get my camera out of its case, the owls were up and gone. Sunrises and sunsets are when marshes come into their own with those big skies.

  5. Hi Derek, I have just moved to kent and have been following your blog about sherry. I will be spending a lot of time on sherry so hopefully i will bump into you. I was there today and the weather was terrible (monday) and i visited shellness for the first time, im not sure if i went the correct way but i ended up at the coast were the terns nest. I was looking for the buntings but never saw any. I did however see a merlin by the car park and another larger falcon further around the walk. No SEO either which is a shame but i will return.

  6. Lewis, I should stick to Sheppey rather than sherry, otherwise you might bump into many other things.
    But seriously, glad you had some success on an awful day and I'm surprised that you saw no SEO's.
    If you somebody with a little white dog wandering about along the sea wall that'll be, come and say hello.

  7. Ha ha many thanks derek i will see you on Sheppey

  8. By the way Derek you can see my site at
    to get some idea of what i do.

    Thanks again.