There was an opportunity after work with a weather window giving me enough time to do a bit of birding on the marsh. When I arrived on site the sun was sliding downwards and the clouds were rolling in giving brief periods of sunlight before the Moon and Venus took centre stage.
A few Fieldfare were in the hawthorn bushes alongside Moorditch Lane on arrival and looked like they were readying for the night ahead. The Starlings were moving through in small flocks and headed east.
On No.6 tank a gathering of c900 Lapwing were busy jostling for the best and safest positions within their roost group. Associated with the plovers came a couple of hundred Golden Plover, c1000 Dunlin and a single Little Stint. The Black-tailed Godwit flock were keeping out in the middle of the tank but with the failing light and southerly wind (producing back views only) it was nigh on impossible to pick out the Bar-tailed (even if it was there?). A small flock of 30 Redshank and a solitary Common Snipe were attached loosely to the roost. Everything appeared calm and serene with the waders (for a change) and the comforting peeps, squeaks and krrr calls coming from the roost was enough for me to pack away my bins. The settled quietness of the diminishing light was suddenly snuffed out when a Merlin flew in overhead and ignited a wader bomb, birds were hurling themselves in panic flocks. A good section of the godwits exited stage right to the comparative safety of the estuary (godwits never seem to have the bottle to stand their ground). The Dunlin used a more tactical approach and kept a low-key position and literally kept low in to the ground. I don’t know the outcome of all this drama because I never saw the Merlin again, but it was an impressive spectacle.
In the last of the evening embers a sub-adult Marsh Harrier flew in and dropped into the reed bed while above an unkindness of Raven wearily headed to the Welsh woods for the night.
Observer and image: WSM.