An early start before the sun poked its head above the eastern skyline and a heavy mist lay over the fields, reed beds and sludge tanks.
The dawn chorus was an underwhelming affair with Cetti’s Warbler shattering the soft edges to the pink glow creeping over Dutton to the east.
I walked up to the ‘phalarope pool’ where a ghostly Western Marsh Harrier appeared from the gloom and drifted out over No.6 tank and then to the south. Black-headed Gull flocks were leaving the estuary and flying south east to their daytime colony at Blakemere.
Suddenly and silently a Barn Owl appeared over my left shoulder and settled on the scaffolding pipe that supports the main sludge pipe into No.6 tank. I fumbled to get my telescope up with the usual uncooperative tripod legs refusing a simple command. I eventually got all the components in place, and unsually the owl was still perch in its original spot.
A few phone scope images secured and a reposition to get a better angle, and the owl didn’t budge. After a few minutes the Barn Owl flew a short distance and landed even closer to me than it had before. I was wishing it would stay a bit longer until I got the bird on full magnification, it was then that I noticed a coded ring on its left leg and a leather band around its right leg…an escapee! The part read code was 8(B?)0885007…if think? The bird still present into the afternoon.
After spending more time than I had to spare (I was expected in work within the hour) I left the owl still perched up and made my way back, stopping briefly to look at a Common Sandpiper, several Black-tailed Godwit and a pair of Pied Avocet.
Arriving at the north bank of No.6 tank and the summer Black-necked Grebe emerged from the mist like something from a (former) popular Saturday night 90’s TV show – Stars in Their Eyes, “Tonight, Matthew, I’m going to be…”
Time is precious before work and all to soon the clock was counting down the minutes into work.
Observer: WSM (images 1-13 & videos).
Other images ( 14-16) from later in the day by David Eisner.
The Water Pipit was on the water line on No.6 tank mid morning. A Grasshopper Warbler singing south bank of No.6, Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler singing around No.6 and Common Whitethroat numbers well into double figures. A Black-necked Grebe and Common Sandpiper showing well also on No.6. Three Ruff with c120 Black-tailed Godwit on 6 and another 3 on the ‘phalarope pool’ along with two Little Ringed Plover. A Western Yellow Wagtail in the now ploughed field off Lordship Lane.
Lots of Orange-tip butterfly, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock on the wing.
Observer: Paul Miller (images 17-18).