The first group outing of the New Year was to Shellness and Capel Fleet. Twenty-one of us met Jeff near Leysdown as the tide fell exposing large expanses of mud. Distant waders were identified through the misty morning light, and we soon had a list with Turnstone, Dunlin, Sanderling, Common Gull, Black-headed Gull, Knot, and Oystercatcher on it. Further out to sea there were Cormorant and a couple of Divers which we identified as Red-throated. Large flocks of Mallard were swimming offshore and Brent Geese were gathered along the tideline. Curlews were calling their evocative song.
Huge flocks of Lapwing swooped over the nearby fields as Crow and Wood Pigeon added to the confusion. In the trees near Muswell Manor I found Brambling in with Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Chaffinch. Unfortunately, most of the group had continued along the seawall, so only a few of us were able to enjoy this beautiful species initially. A Stonechat perched on nearby brambles, with a Wren scolding below it.
Marsh Harrier were seen at some distance with a Common Buzzard, Ring-tail and Little Egret all in the same binocular vision. We also saw Sparrowhawk and Kestrel to add to our raptor list.
As we returned to the cars via the road we took the opportunity to search out the Brambling again, and this time everyone had great views. At our lunch stop we found Pintail mixed in with the Mallard and a further diver was finally identified as
Great Northern probably Black-throated.
En route to Capel Fleet we discussed previous sightings of Red-legged Partridge in the area, within seconds Malcolm saw something high in the trees, they were Waxwings. We turned around and parked on the verge opposite the birds so that we could have a good look at them. As we watched another bird watcher turned up. We phoned Jeff who was by now at the Viewpoint, to get the message to those ahead of us and within minutes several had arrived to enjoy the sight.
As parking was at a premium, we moved off to the Viewing mound. Here another Ring-tail, several more Marsh Harriers, a couple of extremely pale Buzzard and another Kestrel were seen. Corn Bunting were lined up along a telegraph wire. Shelduck, Grey Heron, Little Egret and Pheasant were seen at a distance, including the Black Pheasant which we so often see out there.
Moorhen and Coot were the final additions for the day.
So we start our list for 2013 with 59 species, thanks to Jeff for leading this great day out.
p.s. thanks to Alan for sorting out the photos on the website for me!