|One of at least 10 Marsh Harriers at Capel Fleet, Isle of Sheppey, today.|
I woke up very early today (too early, really), so decided to break with tradition and head down to the North Kent Marshes. Glad I did, as it's been a while since I've had six raptor species in a day in Britain. First up was a Eurasian Sparrowhawk across the road as soon as I came down off the bridge onto the island. This was followed by the first of at least 10 Marsh Harriers in the Capel Fleet/Harty Marshes area - though getting close enough for decent images proved difficult.
|Another Marsh Harrier. Harty Marshes is a good area to study variation in this species' plumages.|
While watching one of these a Merlin tore through a flock of Linnets, scattering birds everywhere. It was too quick to see whether it actually caught anything, but an impressive sight nonetheless. A Eurasian Kestrel in the same area was less dramatic, choosing to hunt from wires and also on the ground.
|Linnets (or, in Merlin language, brunch).|
|Buzzard, but which one? The dark chocolate belly and tail pattern led me to think this was originally a Rough-legged Buzzard, but thanks to comments received it appears it is a well-known local Common Buzzard.|
|The carpal patches on this bird are not that well marked - a feature to which I should originally have paid more heed.|
I swapped the scope for my 500mm lens and converter, during which time the buteo moved to a nearby bush. As I started shooting it flew off east towards a fencepost where the Common Buzzard had taken up position, again displacing its congener.
|These record shots were taken with a 500mm lens, 1.4x converter and 1.6x crop factor - effectively 22x magnification. In this shot the Buteo looks at its most Rough-leg-like.|
|The indistinct trailing edge to the underside of the wings suggests this bird is a juvenile.|
|Corn Buntings still occur in good numbers on Sheppey - these birds were in a flock of 20 at Capel Fleet.|