On a very cold but bright day 17 hardy souls gathered by the sea wall at Leysdown where our first spot was a couple of turnstone on the beach. We decided against pursuing the Richard’s Pipit (although congratulations to Ian and Sue who did see it), but instead walked down towards the private estate where we had good views of a male and female stonechat, meadow pipit, pied wagtail, chaffinch and several house sparrow in the bushes by the car park. In the fields and overhead were large flocks of brent geese and lapwing. We skirted around the estate and out on to the beach. The tide was a very long way out, so no chance of seeing the roost, but we still managed to see a large number of dunlin, oystercatcher, shelduck, teal and curlew, as well as many black-headed and great black-backed gulls. A seal was spotted swimming along close to the shore, and eagle-eyed Irene identified one barnacle goose amongst a flock of brent geese on the beach. Beginning to feel hungry, we walked back to the cars along the beach where we saw a kestrel sitting on a wire. Back at the sea wall, over 100 red throated divers were seen on the estuary.
Refreshed, most of us moved on to the viewpoint at Capel Fleet. Despite the increasing cold and gloom it was well worth it, with corn bunting in their, apparently favourite, bush, a couple of red legged partridge in the field, merlin, marsh harrier, peregrine, heron, and wonderful views of a male hen harrier (a first for us) and finally a short-eared owl quartering over the fields. A really good day with a total count of 48 birds.
Cliff and Sue