There was wall to wall sunshine and cotton wool clouds gently rolling in from the north-west with a little bite to the wind.
The wind direction meant that the waters of No.6 tank were relatively calm and ideal considerations prevailed to produced some excellent viewing. The Black-tailed Godwit flocks were back after a short absence and tallied c1000 birds, hidden or partly obscured were 6 winter Knot, 4 Whimbrel, 11 Ruff, 130 Redshank, 1 Curlew, 11 Avocet and nearby a flock of 450 Dunlin including a partial summer plumaged Curlew Sandpiper (the first of the year). In the thicker vegetation and looking a little forlorn was a solitary Golden Plover with 6 Ringed and a Little Ringed Plover. A Common Sandpiper was frequenting the far bank shoreline.
The Common Shelduck pairs were in full territorial disputes with fights erupting willy-nilly. Along with c100 Tufted Duck it was a little surprising to see just a handful of Shoveler after some large counts earlier in the month. Gadwall were chasing each other in courtship flight and amore was well and truly in the air.
Raptors were also present with Common Buzzard being the dominant species alongside a couple of Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and the female Marsh Harrier producing a brief outing mid morning.
The mitigation area on No.3 tank although looking the part was an ornithological sinkhole with few birds worthy of mention. Likewise Marsh Farm was very poor and apart from 4 Wheatear along the pipes on No.1 tank the whole area wouldn’t have been included today if it wasn’t for them being in the area.
Other birds noted during the course of the day included: 9 Sedge Warbler, 11 Chiffchaff, 4 Whitethroat, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Blackcap, 3 Willow Warbler, 5 Reed Warbler, 20 Sand Martin and 60 Swallow.
During a conversation with the Broomemeister news came through of a Glossy Ibis spotted by Rob and Carol Cockbain across the river on Carr Lane Pools at Hale. It didn’t take much persuasion to fire up the burners on T’s Vauxhall Mokka and then set the dials to cruise control as we headed over for a spot of ‘patch poaching’. We arrived to find the ibis had flown off shortly before our arrival so, after exchanging pleasantries with the birding natives including Ian (Iggy) Igglesden who was vigilant enough to spot the bird flying in with a Cormorant from the direction of Hale Marsh. It flew over without stopping and circled high into a thermal before disappearing from sight to the north-west. We counted ourselves very lucky indeed and jumped back into the Broomobile and headed back to Gotham for a bit more birding.
Observer: Tony Broome, Frank Duff, WSM (images 1-8).
Glossy Ibis image by Carol Cockbain.