At last a milder day. So off to Grain for some migrants . . .
We found the usual suspects in bagfuls around the car park and along the top of the fort and moat. No new songs could be heard. The tide was rising and huge numbers of Curlew and Oystercatcher fed on the exposed mud. We heard a Green Woodpecker “yaffling” on numerous occasions, and a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming. A Meditteranean Gull gave itself away with its distinctive call way before we could see it.
Around a mile along the coast we heard Chiffchaff and as we looked we found two birds flitting about in nearby brambles acting like flycatchers as they caught small insects in the air. They were really acrobatic and a delight to watch. When we turned round from watching the Chiffchaffs the tide had rolled in and all the mud had been covered. From one of the ditches in front of us a Green Sandpiper flew off giving us a great view of its white rump.
As we followed this bird Malcolm shouted as another bird flew over – it was a Swallow! Hurray, 11.20 am, on the 10th April – our first Swallow of the year . . . . we watched the bird as it swooped and rose flying off in a westerly direction, until it disappeared from view. Brilliant, it made my day!
A Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly and a Bumblebee were also enjoying the rare spring sunshine – just to add to our enjoyment of the day.
We found a couple of Purple Sandpipers which we found resting on a seaweed clad bar. As the tide rolled in they flew off with three Turnstone. We continued along the promenade and caught up with them again in a small area of salt marsh, they were so cryptic we struggled to make them out. We kept our distance as their resting options were pretty slim given the high tide, and we did not want to cause them too much disturbance, so we retraced our steps and had a picnic lunch in the company of seven Blackbirds and a couple of Magpies.
In the afternoon we headed off towards Cliffe, then got caught up in road closures and dead ends, so finally decided to go to Allhallows.
As we parked the (rather muddy) car a large flock of House Sparrows were chirping away to each other in a small tree outside the pub. We watched as they interacted, some were flying up to the eaves of the public house where a collared dove had a nest, they had utilised the side of the dove’s nest to make one of their own. On the telegraph wire a Starling was preening, the iridescent colours of its plumage where amazing in the sunlight, a real treat. Next up (literally) were three Skylarks soaring high up and singing for all they were worth – it felt like spring really was finally here.
Here we had our find of the day, three Wheatear on the usual mound of rocks just by the path. They were beautiful, perched up on top of the rocks looking warily around, again we stood back and enjoyed them from a safe distance, then continued along to the sea wall.
On our way back a couple of Little Egret flew past, and a man walking his dog told us he had disturbed “a large brown heron” in a nearby pond as he fed the mute swans – a bittern, we wondered?