14 of us met in the crowded car park and we were delighted to welcome two new friends to our group. There were many birdwatchers – no doubt on the quest to find the rare long-billed dowitcher which had been seen on the east flood around 8 o’clock in the morning and for a few days previously. The tide was well out – high tide 4 o’clock – so we proceeded to walk along the sea wall. We could hear, then saw, whimbrel, then curlew, black-headed gull, black-tailed godwit, cormorant, goldfinch and lots of redshank. We searched for the Bonaparte’s gull which had been sighted here but it eluded us.
Facing the flood, another group of birdwatchers had the dowitcher in their scopes. Visibility was not good with heat haze and it was a long way off. We could see a smaller bird (the dowitcher is snipe sized) amongst the hundreds of black-tailed godwits but, with a black-headed gull preening in front of it, we could not see the long bill or prominent supercilium – so we were reluctant to claim I.D [does that mean I will have to rub out the tick in my book? – Malcolm]. The reports describe the bird as “an adult seemingly moulting out of summer plumage”. Carrying on along the path, out on the mudflats we could see a solitary adult shelduck with a creche of young birds – most pairs leave their young to the care of 1 or 2 adults and fly off to moult. The usual pied wagtails were along the wall foraging on the rocks and a little egret was having a wash. Large flocks of redshanks were slowing returning to the flood with the incoming tide. Nearer the sea hide the graceful avocets were feeding and a group of seals was basking off the sandbank in the distance. Overhead we saw a buzzard and a kestrel was hovering. A male ruff, looking very scruffy, was on the flood with a snipe – and another was seen later in flight. We found 2 spotted redshanks, lots of dunlin, mallards and coot.
Proceeding towards the next hide we found a green-veined white butterfly and from the roadway on the flood, little-ringed plover, linnet, a large flock of golden plover, a little stint, common tern, starling, little grebe, and common and great black backed gulls. The sparrowhawk sent everything up, including three mediterranean gulls with their distinctive call. We had some good views of the stunning yellow wagtails and we added swallow, teal, knot, dunnock and shoveler to our list of birds seen
We went back to the cars for lunch – in the sunshine. Afterwards we walked along the wall to the left and found green woodpecker and stock dove on the brick huts. We also saw mute swan and more mallard.
A very rewarding day in good company.
Thanks to John and Pauline for leading and the report. Thanks to Sally for the photographs. How many bird species can you find in this picture? (click on the image to enlarge it). Can you find avocet, black tailed godwit, black headed gull, redshank, dunlin and teal (might be a mallard though). Amongst the black tailed godwits there could also be 3 “red” knot and, of course, the ever elusive long billed dowitcher. Let me know if I have missed something.