It was quite a contrast weather wise from last weekend with a bitterly cold north-east wind cutting through my fleece/padded jacket combo today. The first bird on my arrival this morning was virtually (apart from a Robin) the sub-adult male Marsh Harrier. The harrier was spotted flying from my right, over the track before flipping down the north bank of No.6 tank and finally flying over the heads of the pre-tide roosting shorebirds. That wasn’t a bad start to my birding day and it reappeared a couple of times during the day sparring with a few Raven over the reed beds.
The build up of waders during the rising tide on No.6 was again an impressive spectacle. I wanted to get out of the wind chill so I edged ever the bank carefully to avoid disturbing the birds below. I settled on a prepared shelf on the bank and sat and waited for the birds to get accustomed to my presence. It didn’t take too long and the Dunlin were busily feeding and patrolling closer to my position. A sleeping flock of c100 Black-tailed Godwit (some containing breeding plumaged birds) looked sedated with an occasional eye-popping open to check on things. It took quite a while before the bunched up flock parted enough for me to pluck out a Bar-tailed Godwit from their number. It was also a great surprise to find another 7 birds hiding away. This is the largest group of ‘barwits’ to have been recorded on the sludge tanks and I really wasn’t expecting to see that today! Paul joined me and I managed to share the experience with him.
The Dunlin flock were also tightly bunched and it was hard to estimate their number? A model typhoon jet appeared over the tank from the direction of the ‘adults playground’ in the fields to the south. The entire flock scattered and rejoined to form their usual mesmerizing murmuration over the water. This gave me an opportunity to make an estimated count of c6500 birds. Meanwhile one of the staple species, the Lapwing were hidden below the southern banks with 330 Common Teal and were protected by the sight of the flying toys and thus avoided being flushed.
After the Dunlin have resettled the Golden Plover flocks started to arrive on cue. The plovers circled the area for some time before settling with the other birds and contained some attaining their handsome summer dress. I guess there was c570 birds present but they were very nervous and didn’t settle for too long.
A peculiar deformed (hair grip) shaped bill tip of a Back-tailed Godwit today.
A solitary Little Stint was present during the tide period and was elusive (for a change). The only Ruff noted was initially with the godwits but soon joined a flock of 230 Redshank engaged in feeding.
I briefly mentioned Common Teal earlier but generally it was a very poor showing by ducks. The species total was below the usual collection with Tufted Duck and Common Pochard being completely absent. The counts included: 89 Shoveler, 43 Mallard, 24 Pintail, a drake Wigeon, 114 Common Shelduck and 2 Gadwall. A couple of Little Grebe, 12 Mute Swan and a wayward Greylag Goose were the only other additions.
Observer: WSM (images 1-8 and videos).
I spotted the Marsh Harrier which was again in the reeds near the ‘secluded pool’. A flock of c200 Pink-footed Goose were grazing in the fields near the blue slurry tank and 22 Whooper Swan were also nearby with a couple of Little Egret alongside ditch.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 9-10).