Around a dozen of us met at the car park by the Old Lighthouse – Jeff led with a strong support team. After discussion Jeff decided we should go towards the observatory and check out the moat and ringing area. As we watched house sparrow, goldfinch, carrion crow, magpie and pied wagtail we noticed that two of the bird ringers were returning from the scrub area with birds to ring. They kindly offered to let us see some of the redpoll they had caught as they believed they had both lesser and common varieties. As we looked at the two birds together we could see the differences – it would have been impossible in the field. The lesser redpoll is darker and smaller, and the common slightly larger and paler with a more distinct wing bar so now it’s your turn . . . . . . . . . .
So how did you do?
Lesser on the right, common on the left – I think!
Anyway, back to our day out. We did a circuit of the moat, and saw both sparrowhawk and buzzard. Shortly after we noticed another bird of prey which was acting rather strangely, having flown from a bush to the ground it walked towards the power station perimeter fence then continued to walk along rather than fly. After watching for some minutes it finally flew over the fence and disappeared into a bush, not to be seen again. Another one that got away! We moved to the Patch where there were herring gull and greater black-backed gull, further afield we spotted cormorant, gannet and a guillemot. By now we were feeling a little hungry so decided to move to the reserve for the afternoon.
As we ate lunch Jeff spotted a bird flying overhead and called out – Ian quickly noticed that it was in fact a glossy ibis (some had had distant views of one flying earlier) we all jumped up to watch as the bird flew towards the power station initially then turned and disappeared in the direction of Denge Marsh Road.
Lunch over, and for some a little Christmas Shopping, then it was time to get back to the birdwatching.
On the pools were coot, pochard, wigeon, shoveler, gadwall, tufted duck, mute swan, grey heron and mallard. We watched a marsh harrier being mobbed by a kestrel. Several swallow were feeding over the main pool, and a couple of pintail were sleeping on one of the islands. Teal, great crested grebe and little grebe were next to be added to our list for the day. Two green woodpeckers were seen on this part of the reserve.
At Denge Marsh there were numerous greylag geese, 20 or so golden plover some dunlin, a couple of snipe, and a good view of the great white egret. As the main group moved off three of us were watching the snipe, when a smaller bird was seen, a little stint. Unfortunately we could not see the bird from the hide, so I am afraid that we will have to rely on the initial sightings (just lucky it was three women, Malcolm).
Frome Denge Marsh Hide we watched large numbers of duck joined by a huge flock of starlings, black headed gulls and a few redshank. Whilst we had seen several robin as we walked around the reserve, it was not until we got to the viewpoint beyond Denge Marsh Hide that we spotted a blackbird, and although several cetti’s warblers called, again it was at the mound that three (women) saw the warbler dash across the water to disappear in a small bush. Here we also heard and saw a great green bush cricket.
Several of us went to the Hanson Hide at the ARC and although there were more of the birds already seen on the main reserve, there were no new birds to add for the day.
Thanks for leading Jeff, another great day out with good weather and superb birds.