5 Mar 2015

First visit to Elmley Reserve

In 2012 a guest speaker at my camera club, enlightened me to Elmley Nature Reserve on the Isle of Sheppey. In his talk he showed stunning photos of the Short Eared Owl that unbeknown to me, was a yearly visitor to the reserve. So armed with this new knowledge I made plans to visit the reserve in hope of photographing these Owls. In March 2013 a visit finally happened. During this first afternoon visit I saw my first Red Crested Pochards.

Red Crested Pochard in flight 

Watching how these birds flew in formation was mesmerizing. The subtle movements and lead bird changes was as if they were dancing in the air. There were several occasions that they took to the air for reasons which I was soon discover. About an hour later on the return walk of this section of reserve, I observed a flock of smaller white birds taking flight and changing direction very rapidly and erratically. At first I could not see any reason why they were doing this such movements but then was lucky enough to get the following sequence of photos that capture what in fact was happening. 

First shot showing the culprit, a female Sparrowhawk coming in from above

Swooping in low

Singling out its victim

Unfortunate victim just before being caught.

To see this, gave me chance to see natures brutality at its best. I felt sorry for the little bird but in the grand scheme of things there are hundreds of these and Sparrowhawks are rare and beautiful Birds of Prey in their own right. After researching what the prey bird was, I believe it to be a Dunlin. This visit did unfortunately not prove successful in seeing the Short Eared Owls, but 2 Barn Owls did make a flypast and a Marsh Harrier came fairly close by, but too far to photograph with my still primitive manual 300mm lens. I came away from this trip with the above sequence, which has more than made up for the blank session of the Owls.

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