We arrived in bright sunshine – water levels on the marsh were high due to the fact that water had been pumped on during January to ensure waders have plenty of muddy areas in May and June to feed their hungry chicks.
Lots to see on the way in, large flocks of starling, coot, mute swan, lapwing, redshank, shoveler, skylark and marsh harrier.
17 of us set off, mallard, kestrel hovering, lesser great backed gull, little grebe, pied wagtail, wigeon, moorhen, pigeon, reed bunting, shellduck, curlew, snipe, canada geese, tufted duck and peregrine. The tide was out so there was nothing much to see from the viewing screen, which had been greatly improved with a new gravel step, erected with the help of the volunteers who have also been busy erecting barn owl boxes.
Wellmarsh hide for elevenses and/or early lunch. Alan found an owl pellet outside the hide which was eagerly inspected by Malcolm to reveal a wood mouse skull with a few teeth still intact. We were treated to great raptor viewing especially marsh harriers, buzzard and peregrine. As the tide was still out just a few avocet, teal, greylag geese in the distance, a med. gull, black tailed godwit, blackheaded gull were on view.
From the next hide we saw, egyptian geese, cormorant, oystercatcher, turnstone, dunlin, gadwall, pintail and grey plover. Eventually a pair of hare hunkered down (hoped to see more). By now the sun had disappeared and the wind was very keen. A few of the group ventured further along the sea wall but most headed back.
With the tide now high we encountered large flocks, especially wigeon which will be eagerly feeding before their departure this month to feeding grounds in the North. We called back into Wellmarsh hide which was much busier by then. Back at the car park John found our favourite little owl in the tree it used to frequent.
Our aim now was to try and find short-eared owl and /or Jack snipe on the drive out – eventually a few of us found the jack snipe snuggled down amongst grassy tussocks close to the road. No luck with the short-eared owl but there is always next time!!!
A cold but enjoyable day with friends.
Pauline and John
Thanks to Terry and Steve for the photographs.