We arrive in lovely sunshine, surprised at the lack of snow on the island. Sheep grazing along the approach road with the usual carrion crow, starling, lapwing & wigeon but in smaller numbers than usual. Lots of frozen water – a marsh harrier sending the birds up and grey heron hunkered down in the distance, a few teal, mute swan and kestrel.
14 brave souls wrapped up for the chill wind. John and Sally spoke to Gareth and he said the seawall was almost breached the night before – but the Swale stopped just a few inches from the top of the wall.
Just through the car park gate we were treated to short-eared owl flying over us. Not so many birds on route to the first hide but stonechats were evident all day – we saw at least 6 marsh harriers at once so no wonder the other birds were not so abundant. Little egret, coot, moorhen, oystercatcher and shelduck flying over, Canada and greylag geese in the distance, buzzard. Rock pipit by the bench.
First views from the hide mostly grey plover and dunlin, not yet high tide so, after hot drinks and snacks, ventured on for lunch at the next hide. Still a little quiet but peregrine in distance, ringed plover and one avocet which sadly looked injured. Curlew, turnstone. After lunch decided to return to first hide as we could see flocks landing there.
A few meadow pipits and wren. Snipe in flight. Making our way back reed bunting and from the screen, the tide was full in by now, great crested grebe, redshank and rafts of ducks further out – mainly wigeon. Gulls for the day, herring, black-headed, great black-backed, lesser black-backed and common.
Getting on for 1600 hrs. back to car park and spotted a hare then, to everyone’s delight, 3 short-eared owls, two in flight, beautiful but a little difficult to track in the returning sunshine and another sat on the grass and much easier to view.
Perfect end to a chilly, but lovely day.
Pauline and John
Thanks to Pauline and John for leading and the report. Thanks to Terry and Sally for the photographs.