With the tide a little earlier in the day I wasn’t expecting too much in the way of shorebirds to be present on No.6 tank. The receding water level on this sludge tank at this time of year shouldn’t be underestimated. I arrived to watch over it with an open mind and an vacant expression on my face.
The eastern edge of the tank had the usual bunched up groups of 60 Mallard and 53 Tufted Duck but what wasn’t usual was 53 Common Teal. Three Shoveler and a healthy stock of ‘Shelducklings’ kept a couple of pairs of attentive surrogate parents busy gathering them all upt.
The main party action centred on the c750 Black-tailed Godwit flock occupying the centre of the open water. There has been an increase in the number of breeding plumaged birds here today, so I guess these are failed breeders moving south earlier than expected? A Greenshank was new in but after seeing flocks of 9 and 5 in Ireland last week it was not a great surprise to see them arriving here. Three Ruff two of which were in full summer plumage were with the godwits.
An adult Ringed Plover was a very fussy parent shooing away an equally attentive adult Little Ringed Plover parent and youngster from its own young bird. All four were on the emerging midge infested mud and below where I was standing on the bank above. Fortunately they were too busy squabbling to notice me but there was more than enough food for both species to feed together without getting involved in any territorial disputes.
All the shorebirds were relatively content with their lot, that was until a Hobby darted through to chase the numerous Sand Martin feeding low over the water. The godwits were jittery as ever and most upped sticks and headed for the estuary. After the remaining birds had resettled and resumed feeding a lumbering juvenile Peregrine took the opportunity to bluster its way through frightening the rest of the birds into flight. A Sparrowhawk added to the carnage and hand selected its supper.
One of the many Marsh Harrier here included one with prey on No.3 tank where the mitigation pools were only hosting a herd of cows and a flock of sheep!
A good little selection of species to pick through and with the coming weeks it may pay to make a visit here, you never know? Finding a rarity is a lottery but you have to be here to pick it out from all the waders expected to move through.
Observer and images: WSM.