It was the first day of 2017 and our first group trip out. Fourteen of us met at the sea wall at Leysdown on a somewhat cloudy but mild morning. We were all wrapped up just in case it was cold, wet (rain had been forecast for later) and windy but in fact it was for the most part mild and dry with only a slight breeze with the incoming tide. High tide was not until about 2.30 pm, and so as we made our way along to Shellness, we were able to watch quite an array of different wading birds scurrying about on the beach, getting ever closer to us. Dunlin and knot were mingled in with turnstone and redshank as they all busily fed while the beach was uncovered. The odd sanderling was quite happily rubbing shoulders with the turnstone feeding amongst the seaweed while being overlooked by grey plover and curlew. A few bar-tailed godwits were present, mainly sleeping on one leg, and as the water rose narrowing the beach a stream of oystercatchers flew by constantly. Over the fields to our right a kestrel hunted while a pair of stonechat perched on fence posts. A large flock of lapwing and golden plover were spotted only to be disturbed by a couple of marsh harriers.
We had timed it just right. On reaching Shellness we watched as more and more waders collected on what remained of dry land. The wader roost at the point was filling up with oystercatchers and knot, each having their own assigned area next to each other but not apparently actually mixing. Having filled our senses with this terrific spectacle we needed to fill our stomachs too – so we hastily returned to our cars for refreshment. While eating lunch we had an extra treat of watching red-throated divers from the sea wall, not too far out, now that the tide was in.
After lunch we moved on to Capel Fleet raptor watchpoint. Here we hoped for views of marsh harriers and owls among other birds. No owls unfortunately but there were a few harriers getting ready to roost flying over the reed bed. A buzzard sat nicely on a post for us to look at and smaller birds like chaffinch, robin, wren were flying to and fro. Our last sighting of the day was a group of corn bunting sitting atop the bramble bush where they like to reside. A very pleasant day spent watching the birds. Thanks to all that came.
Wishing you all a happy new year
Irene and Terry.
Thanks to Irene and Terry for leading and also the report and photographs. As the light at the watchpoint was poor on Sunday we do not have any pictures from there. However, I could not resist adding this photograph of Sue, taken by Sally a few weeks ago, at the same site. Needless to say the chicken was not there on Sunday. But the picture really needs a caption!