June Newsletter

  • 15/06/2017
  • Nature Notes

Updates for June

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For those newly joined, welcome and thanks! We hope you enjoy keeping in touch through our newsletter which we send monthly from Sept to June. This newsletter covers the summer months.

Please keep an eye on the website, our twitter feed and the board in the car park for more updates.

Summer opening hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

We are closed on Tuesdays.

Late closing for Friends will be the first Thursday of each month - 1st June, 6th July, 3rd August and 7th September.

May has been an odd month, as Richard points out below, but the wader news is much better than expected on the third of five counts of breeding lapwing and their chicks. Numbers of Oystercatchers are particularly good and three broods of rather inconspicuous chicks can be seen close to the entry road. It seems we are in for a long hot summer too. Despite the odd downpour our water supplies are now very low across the marsh and the main reservoir behind the hides therefore we have concentrated our efforts on the scrapes with the most breeding avocet, Counterwall Hide and the scrapes beyond Southfleet. Unfortunately, Wellmarsh hide is very prone to drying so at present we do not have sufficient water to keep water levels up there as well. Research - It is rarely mentioned but we host numerous scientific groups with a broad range of disciplines which some of you may be interested in. Over the years numerous papers have been published with data from Elmley but there is no single library of these. We plan to retain all current and future papers for reference, or interest. We currently have four very interesting projects taking place at Elmley and the Swale NNR. The primary studies include research on eel migration with the Zoological Society of London, salt marsh erosion study with PhD researchers from the RESILCOAST project, University of Bangor and Government monitoring of mosquitoes with scientist and researchers from laboratories at Pirbright. Lastly, our own breeding waders research on breeding productivity, of course! In fact, Prof Ian Newton commented on a recent visit that we now have the largest data set on breeding lapwing he is aware of so well done to Richard and Ray our volunteer surveyors for taking over the surveying from Rod Smith, with such dedication. On the farm the bulls are back with the cows and this year's calves at heel so you will notice larger groups and the red calf feeders spread across the marsh once again. We hope you all have a lovely summer and if you are going away have a great holiday. Best wishes form all of us at Elmley.

Thank you very much to Barry whom has very generously devoted time to help with the Friends admin. We are now sending a reminder for subs renewals and have a concise handout booklet for visitors to take as they wish at the entry gate.

Late opening, as mentioned last month, has restarted this year with a good number staying late last Thursday. Future dates are the first Thursday of each month: 6th July, 3rd August, 7th September, 5th October.

2017 stickers now available for collection or send a SAE to us - Kingshill Farm, Elmley, Kent, ME12 3RW.

May at Elmley has been very different to those of recent years, starting out very dry as was late April, it looked as tho’ the breeding birds would suffer. I’m glad to say that in my view, effect has been only minimal. It seems that the birds have adapted to suit the circumstances, where previously the majority of nesting would be over by now, some are only just starting. The Lapwings chicks may be a little down, but the Redshanks chicks are plentiful, there are more Oystercatcher chicks as well. Avocets seem to have avoided the Blackhead Gull colony at Wellmarsh Hide and are defending chicks successfully at Counterwall Hide. Highlights for me were the Summer plumage Ruff, the fleeting visit of a Black Winged Stilt and a varying, 2-30 flock of Black Tailed Godwits in Summer plumage on the east scrape/flood midway along entrance track.

The Swale Wader Group have kindly offered an invitation to the Friends of Elmley to join them tagging barn owlets this Friday 9th June at 9a.m. meeting int he main car park. Numbers are limited so please email if you would join Bryan and his team.

Some of you may have seen we have had an unusually large number of low flying aircraft making either practise landings or just ignorantly flying low for a view regardless of the disturbance to the breeding birds or our livestock. Clearly its not good for the birds and very dangerous for our stock men who have been amongst the cows as they are frightened. If you are visiting and see a very low aircraft it would be very helpful if you could note the wing number and send a short note to the Civil Aviation Authority at - please include all the details you can - colour, size and marking of the aircraft and time/date of the incident. Thank you.

We will be hosting weddings and parties in Kingshill Barn each Saturday through the summer months. You may notice one of our team at the entrance greeting guests and taxis to ensure they drive slowly and know where they are going on the day. The new visitor loos are solely for day visitors so will remain open throughout and other than a rather full car park its unlikely you will notice any other disruption to your visit.

Orange tulips