Monthly Archives: September 2016

4th September 2016 – From Wash to Coast

Day 3 of a 3 day long weekend of tours today, and our last day. It was a windy day, rather blustery in the morning, but at least it was forecast to stay dry.

Our first stop was at Snettisham. We were not here for the Wader Spectacular today –  it would have required a much earlier start to the day. But with the timing of high tide, we thought we could still get there in time to see a good number of waders gathered on the pits.

With the blustery SW wind, it looked like the water had not come right in to cover the last of the mud this morning, and there was still as large huddle of waders over in the far corner. A long smear of blacks and greys resolved itself into a mass birds through the scope – thousands of Oystercatchers, Curlew, Knot and Bar-tailed Godwits – roosting over high tide on the last remaining patch of uncovered mud.

6O0A0221Waders – the huge flock huddled into the corner of the Wash

The tide was already starting to go out again and flocks of Sanderlings were flying in over the water to the mud. As we walked up to the hide, the first lines of Dunlin were already heading back out to the Wash from the pit.

The hide provided some welcome shelter from the wind and the chance to have a good look at the birds. Thankfully, there was still lots to see on the pit. The different species were segregated somewhat into different roosts on different islands and banks. Most of the Black-tailed Godwits were on the islands in front of the hide. There were a couple of massed flocks of Knot on the islands over to one side, with more godwits mixed in with them. Most were Black-tailed, but a closer look revealed a few Bar-tailed Godwits too. A couple of them were still in summer plumage, with rusty orange underparts extending right down under the tail.

The Dunlin were scattered around the edges or on the bits of the islands not filled with Knot. A Curlew Sandpiper had been seen before we arrived but had disappeared. We thought it might have flown off back to the Wash already, but eventually we found two Curlew Sandpiper asleep together, still in with the Dunlin. They were very hard to see, crouched down with their heads tucked in. Further over, the Turnstones had occupied one of the rockier islands and had it all to themselves.

The Little Stint was much more obliging. It appeared from nowhere in the middle of the island right in front of the hide. We had a good look at it through the scope as it walked down to the water’s edge, before it was chased off by the Black-tailed Godwits. While we were watching the Little Stint, a Common Sandpiper appeared nearby. It was working its way around the shore of the island and, a little later, appeared right down on the front edge below us.

6O0A0231Little Stint – appeared on the island in front of the hide

Most of the Spotted Redshanks were roosting out in the deeper water, on their own in a little huddle apart from a single Common Redshank with them. Most were adults, now in winter plumage, silvery grey above and bright white below, but when they shuffled round we could see a single dusky juvenile Spotted Redshank too. The Greenshanks had all gathered on the edge of the shingle bank towards the southern end, and a closer look through them revealed a couple of Spotted Redshanks there too.

IMG_6220Spotted Redshanks – gathered in a huddle out in the middle

As well as all the waders, a young Great Crested Grebe and a couple of Little Grebes were diving out on the pit. As well as some of the more regular wildfowl, we found a small group of Wigeon. There are many more here in the winter, but these are some of the first birds which have returned from their breeding grounds in Russia. As with all the ducks at this time of year, the drakes are in eclipse plumage so are not looking their finest, but they were still nice to see.

As we walked back to the car, lines of waders were coming off the pit and flying over our heads, back out to the Wash. They seemed a little slow to return to the mud today, perhaps because their roost sites were nicely sheltered from the wind. On one of the northern pits, we stopped to look through a raft of gulls out on the water. Most were Black-headed Gulls, but in with them we found a few Mediterranean Gulls too. All adults in winter plumage now, we admired their white wingtips and black bandit masks.

IMG_6224Mediterranean Gull – a few were on the pits today

We planned to spend the rest of the day at Titchwell. A Blackcap appeared in the elder above the car as we arrived in the overflow car park. It grabbed a berry and disappeared back down into cover. There was too much disturbance now, so not much else in the bushes here today. The feeders by the visitor centre were busier, with a selection of finches and tits.

There was a bit of time before lunch still, so we decided to explore the Fen and Autumn Trails first. Stopping at Patsy’s reedbed, we could see a couple of Little Grebes diving in the water and lots of Mallard and Gadwall asleep on the islands. A Snipe appeared at the water’s edge just along from the screen, before creeping back into the vegetation. Further along, a lone small duck was the Garganey. Through the scope, we could see its boldly marked face pattern.

IMG_6243Garganey – on Patsy’s Reedbed

Walking along the Autumn Trail, a flock of Golden Plover flew in overhead from inland and dropped down towards the freshmarsh. They were nervous and seemed reluctant to settle, flying up again and whirling round several times. Round at the back of the freshmarsh, we could see a line of seven Spotted Redshanks and two Greenshanks in their usual favoured spot over by the fence but no sign of any Spoonbills here today. An adult and juvenile Ruff feeding down on the mud in the corner gave us a nice opportunity to compare them. Another Snipe was feeding quietly on the edge of the reeds.

We made our way back to the car for lunch, coming across several Bloody-nosed Beetles on the path as we did so. We could hear Long-tailed Tits calling from the sallows as we walked along the boardwalk. At the corner of the Meadow Trail, we stopped to watch a Migrant Hawker hovering over the small pool and a couple of Reed Warblers appeared in the cut vegetation at the back. A Chiffchaff flitted around in the bushes above the path.

6O0A0267Bloody-nosed Beetle – we came across several walking along the paths

After lunch, we set out to explore the main part of the reserve. The grazing meadow ‘pool’ was largely empty of birds. Not part of the reserve, it is now in a sorry state, sadly mismanaged by the landowner. A little further along, we could see a crowd gathered. Two Mute Swans were blocking the path between them and us, and as we got nearer we could see why – three juvenile swans were resting on the top of the bank. Not a great place to choose!

6O0A0275Mute Swans – these two were blocking the main path

The male Mute Swan in particular was being very aggressive and people were reluctant to approach, which was leading to a traffic jam on the path. With some careful manoeuvring, we were able to persuade the two adult swans to climb onto the bank too and traffic could flow freely again.

A quick look at the reedbed pool produced a few Gadwall and Tufted Duck. Then scanning the saltmarsh the other side, we picked up a large white bird flying up from one of the channels towards Thornham. It was a Spoonbill and it flew round and headed in our direction, eventually passing over Island Hide just ahead of us, before disappearing over the back of the freshmarsh and dropping down beyond the far bank.

6O0A0288Spoonbill – flew in from Thornham and across the freshmarsh

From Island Hide, we could see lots of waders out on the mud. Several Avocets were feeding in front of the hide, sweeping their bills back and forth through the shallow water. There were more Ruff round this side of the freshmarsh too. A flock of smaller waders over in the corner by the main path was mostly Dunlin. But a careful scan through revealed two Little Stints and two juvenile Curlew Sandpipers.

A third Little Stint was out on one of the muddy islands in the middle and while we were watching it running around it suddenly froze and crouched low to the mud. At the same time, all the other waders suddenly too to the air. Looking up, a Hobby was flying over. It circled over the freshmarsh before turning sharply and stooping into a flock of waders. It didn’t catch anything, but circled up again and then swooped down over the reedbed.

6O0A0290Hobby – chasing waders around the freshmarsh

Once the Hobby had disappeared the smaller waders resettled in a group further over. This time, we could see three Curlew Sandpipers now and one of them was an adult moulting out of summer plumage. Through the scope, we could see its botchy orange underparts. The smaller waders gradually returned to the corner where they had been feeding, and from up on the main path we had great views of the Dunlin and Little Stints out on the mud. Several Ruff walked back to the muddy edge along the reeds just below us.

IMG_6258Little Stint – feeding on the mud by the main path

Round at Parrinder Hide, there were several Black-tailed Godwits feeding in front of the hide. Most of them are now largely in grey-brown winter plumage, but one was still mostly in much brighter summer plumage, with rusty head and breast and black-barred belly.

6O0A0325Black-tailed Godwit – this one was still mostly in summer plumage

A Shoveler was also feeding just below the hide, head down, shoveling through the muddy water. It was great to watch it feeding up close.

6O0A0341Shoveler – shoveling through the muddy water

Round on the other side of Parrinder Hide, overlooking the Volunteer Marsh, there were a lot fewer birds but we did get nice views of both Avocet and Curlew feeding close to us. Through the scope, we admired the intricately patterned plumage of the latter.

6O0A0371Curlew – feeding on Volunteer Marsh

In a brighter interlude, we walked out to the beach. The wind had dropped a little this afternoon, and thankfully it wasn’t as blustery now. A couple of Bar-tailed Godwits were feeding on the beach and a very smart summer plumage Grey Plover was down on the mussel beds. We could hear a Whimbrel calling and eventually spotted it out on the sand.

The sea was choppy. Out in the distance, we could see several Gannets circling and one flew past a little closer in. A little group of Common Terns was diving into the water just offshore and a Sandwich Tern flew past through the breakers, though more terns were feeding further out. We watched as a small party of Teal flew in over the sea, presumably freshly arrived from the continent for the winter, migration in action.

Then it was time to head back. A single Wheatear on the short grass behind the dunes provided a nice way to round off the day and the weekend.

3rd September 2016 – Whinchat, Wheatears & Waders

Day 2 of a 3 day long weekend of tours today. It was a lovely warm and sunny start to the day, but we knew that rain was forecast for the afternoon, so we had to make the most of it. We made our way east along the coast to Cley.

North Scrape has been the best scrape for waders in recent days on the reserve. It can be difficult viewing here in the heat of the day, looking into the sun, so we decided to go round here first. As we got out of the car in the car park, a Wheatear was on the top of the shingle ridge behind us. A nice start to the day.

6O0A0129Wheatear – on the shingle in the car park when we arrived

Before we had finished unloading the car, we were called over by some people a few cars further along. They had found a freshly dead Dunlin on the shingle nearby and were not sure what it was. It was amazing to look at up close – a juvenile, with black streaks on its belly. It was missing a wing, but otherwise appeared undamaged. An odd injury, it was unclear whether it was killed by the impact from a raptor or perhaps yet another victim of the lethal high tension fence which has inexplicably been put up around that part of the reserve.

IMG_6144Dunlin – this juvenile was found freshly dead on the shingle

As we walked out beside the beach to North Scrape, a Sandwich Tern called and flew past close inshore. A large Grey Seal surfaced just off the beach, before diving again. When we arrived at North Scrape, it appeared strangely quiet compared to recent days. We were informed that a Hobby, 2 Marsh Harriers and a Common Buzzard had flown over, flushing all the waders – we saw one each of the latter two species while we were there.

Many of the waders had flown off, but the Curlew Sandpipers at least had apparently just flown round the corner out of view. We decided to sit for a while and see what reappeared. A couple of Ringed Plovers were well camouflaged on the nearest, sandy island. Then a single Knot appeared in the water nearby, giving a great view through the scope. A Greenshank was sleeping nearby, along with a couple of Dunlin. Two Green Sandpipers flew in but dropped out of view in the reeds, before flying back off again.

The two Curlew Sandpipers started to walk out into view. They were hard to see well at first, looking through the tops of the reeds in the foreground, and we had to put the scope on the top of the bank. Fortunately, after a while, they flew out and landed in full view at the front of the scrape, where we could see them much better. They were both juveniles, smart birds with scaly backs, a well-marked supercilium and a peachy wash across the breast.

IMG_6151Curlew Sandpiper – a juvenile, dwarfed by a Black-headed Gull

There was no sign of any Wood Sandpipers though, which was the species we had particularly hoped to see here. When the news came through that they had relocated themselves to Pat’s Pool, we decided to drive round and have a look at the other side of the reserve. On the way back to the car park, we stopped to admire a couple of Common Darters which were basking in the morning sunshine in the shelter of the path.

6O0A0136Common Darter – enjoying the morning sun

A couple of Wheatears were chasing each other round the now dried-up pool by the fence. They wouldn’t stop still at first, but finally one landed on the top of a dried poppy plant where we could all have a good look at it through the scope. When it eventually took off again, we had a great view of its white rump as it flew past us.

IMG_6162Wheatear – two were chasing round by the beach

We went round to Bishop Hide first. As we walked along the path, we caught a brief sight of a Hobby hawking for insects low over the reedbed. The hide itself was surprisingly full of people. There was a good flock of Black-tailed Godwits sleeping out on the mud and a selection of Ruff scattered around the scrape. The latter included both brown and buff juveniles and grey and white winter adults. One person thought they had found the two Wood Sandpipers at one point but all we could see when they pointed out where they were looking were a couple of Ruff in the edge of the reeds. We decided to head over to the other hides instead.

As we walked along the boardwalk, our attention was drawn by a small orangey-buff bird on the fence along the edge of the reeds. It was a Whinchat. It kept dropping down into the grass before returning to the fence, where it sat very obligingly for us to admire it.

IMG_6170Whinchat – on the fence by the boardwalk out to the hides

Looking out across the other side of Pat’s Pool from Teal Hide, there was still no sign of the Wood Sandpipers – they had probably flown back to North Scrape! We did have nice close views of three juvenile Black-tailed Godwits feeding just in front of the hide, which were nice to see. A flock of Golden Plover landed on the main island and started to bathe in the shallow water, most still sporting the remnants of their summer black bellies.

6O0A0163Black-tailed Godwit – a juvenile of the Icelandic race

Even better, a couple of Reed Warblers appeared in the cut reeds right outside the hide. One in particular was hopping around in a patch of dead vegetation very close to us, giving us great views.

6O0A0142Reed Warbler – feeding in the cut reeds just outside the hide

From Dauke’s Hide, a quick look at Simmond’s Scrape did not produce much we had not already seen, apart from a sleeping Yellow-legged Gull. This scrape is apparently scheduled to be reworked this month and has been kept drier than normal accordingly over the last couple of weeks, which may explain why it has been quieter on here. So we headed back to the visitor centre for lunch. It had clouded over, but there were still only a few spots of rain for now.

The pool beside Iron Road has been looking great for waders over the last few days, so it was no great surprise to learn that a Pectoral Sandpiper had been found there. After lunch, we made our way over there to try to see it. It had disappeared into the grass when we arrived, but while we waited for it to reappear, there were several other good birds to see. A Yellow Wagtail flew in and landed at the feet of one of the cows nearby, showing off its very bright yellow undertail.

Best of all, we finally caught up with a Wood Sandpiper – getting really good views of one feeding on one of the muddy pools here, admiring its spangled upperparts and well-marked pale supercilium. A Green Sandpiper flew in to the same pool, much darker above, less obviously spotted. There was even a Little Stint on here too, which eventually came out onto a more open patch of mud where we could get a proper look at it.

The Pectoral Sandpiper frustrated us for a while, making a brief appearance out of the grass but quickly being flushed by a passing calf and disappearing back into cover. Then finally, it worked its way to the edge of one of the grassy islands where we could see it, before walking out across in the open. We could see its brown streaked breast, ending in a well-defined curve, the pectoral band.

IMG_6178Pectoral Sandpiper – eventually showed well

A sharp ‘tchooeet’ call alerted us to an approaching Spotted Redshank. It flew in from the east and over our heads, dropping down over the back of the pool towards Babcock Hide. As it was now starting to drizzle a little, we thought it would be a good place to sit for a while, so walked round to the hide.

As we opened the shutters, we could see a Common Sandpiper feeding quietly on the mud in front of the hide, out to the left. It slowly worked its way across in front of us, moving very furtively and bobbing its tail as it went. We could see the tell-tale white spur extending up between the darker breast and the wings.

6O0A0169Common Sandpiper – on the mud in front of Babcock Hide

Then the Spotted Redshank appeared from behind one the islands. It was feeding vigorously in the distinctive way Spotted Redshanks do, head down, sweeping its bill quickly from side to side through the water. It was a dusky grey juvenile, and when it raised its head from time to time we could see the distinctive long, needle sharp bill, with a tiny downward kink near the end.

Even better, the Spotted Redshank progressively worked its way towards the hide and was then joined by a couple of Common Redshanks. It was great to see the two species side by side for comparison. One of the Common Redshanks even tried to copy the Spotted Redshank’s feeding action at one point, following round behind it, before giving up and resuming a more delicate probing in the mud.

IMG_6212Spotted Redshank – a dusky grey juvenile

There were other things to see here too, as we sat out a passing heavier shower. There was no shortage of Snipe, but three flew in and landed on the mud in front of the hide. A Lapwing was feeding on the edge of the vegetation just below us too, looking very colourful despite the gloomy conditions now.

6O0A0218Lapwing – still looking very exotic in the rain

A family of Little Grebes were diving out in the water and one of the adults even came out onto one of the islands at one point – most ungainly birds on dry land! A couple of Marsh Harriers flew in from the east, one duller male doing a very close fly by past the hide. We heard Bearded Tits calling from the reeds, but the one which appeared briefly in the tops unfortunately didn’t hang around long enough for everyone to get onto it. The Cormorants gave up trying to dry their wings once the rain started.

When the rain eased again, we got news that a Redstart had been seen the other side of Salthouse at Gramborough Hill, so we made our way over to try to see it. There were a few people working their way round the bushes when we arrived, and we got a very brief glimpse of the Redstart as it dived into cover. We had better views of a smart male Stonechat, which more helpfully perched on the top of the bushes.

Unfortunately, we were on the wrong side of the brambles and the Redstart flew off again as we tried to work our way round. It disappeared round the hill and couldn’t immediately be refound. At that point it started to rain again. It was already getting on and we had been much luckier with the weather this afternoon than we had expected, so we decided to call it a day. Looking at all the things we had seen, what a great day it had been!

2nd September 2016 – Autumn Begins

Day 1 of a 3 day long weekend of tours today. It had rained overnight, but thankfully stayed mostly dry all day, even if it was rather dull and cloudy.

Our first stop was at Stiffkey Fen. As we got out of the car, a Marsh Harrier circled over the hedge across the field, as a mob of Greylag Geese and a covey of Red-legged Partridges fed in the stubble. The paths and hedges were still rather damp, and were consequently a little quiet. A Bullfinch called from the trees down by the river, but typically kept well hidden. A flock of House Martins hawked for insects over the edge of the copse – their gathering a reminder that autumn is here and they will soon be on their way south.

From up on the seawall, we had a much better view of the Fen, which is hard to see from the path now that the vegetation has all grown up. Among the throng of Greylags, we could see a line of large white birds, all asleep on one leg. They were Spoonbills, and we counted sixteen of them, most doing what Spoonbills like to do best – sleeping! One lone Spoonbill was feeding right over the back of the Fen behind one of the islands, head down, sweeping its bill from side to side through the water.

6O0A0100Spoonbills – eleven of the seventeen here today

Things improved Spoonbill-wise when a single bird flew in from behind us, over the saltmarsh, and dropped down into the water in the middle of the Fen. It was awake! Through the scope, we could see its spoon-shaped bill, the yellow tip showing it to be an adult. It started to preen, but two juvenile Spoonbills promptly ran out of the main group and started harassing it, bobbing their heads up and down and flapping their wings. They were its youngsters and were still trying to beg for food. The adult showed little interest in feeding them and the two juveniles quickly gave up.

There was a good selection of waders here today. The tide was still quite high over on the harbour side of the seawall, and lots of birds were roosting on the Fen. We could hear Greenshanks calling and a scan of the water as we moved round revealed at least 25 scattered around. A Green Sandpiper was feeding quietly along the edge of the reeds at the front, but a Common Sandpiper was towards the back and harder to see in the grassy edge of one of the islands. A Common Snipe was not so well camouflaged out in the open on the grass.

A large number of Black-tailed Godwits were mostly sleeping around the islands, with a few Ruff and Redshank in with them on closer inspection. We managed to find a handful of Dunlin but not the Curlew Sandpiper we had hoped to see on here (which had probably disappeared into the corner out of view). A single Avocet sweeping its bill rapidly from side to side, a couple of noisy Oystercatchers and a handful of Lapwing completed the wader list.

The ducks are not looking their best at this time of year, with the drakes in eclipse plumage, but it was still nice to see several Pintail, always a very elegant species. There are a few Wigeon already back for the winter, but most will return over the coming weeks. As well as the selection of other regular wildfowl, a couple of Bar-headed Geese looked rather more out of place, escapees from a collection somewhere.

6O0A0102Greenshanks – flying out to the harbour as the tide went out

As the tide started to go out, the waders started to fly out to the harbour to feed. As we walked round to the edge of the saltmarsh, from where we could get a better look, a group of Greenshank flew past calling and one dropped down into the harbour channel, conveniently next to a Redshank for comparison. A call overhead alerted us to a single smaller bird with a party of Black-tailed Godwits also flying over, which was the Curlew Sandpiper heading out to the mud, though not the best of views. A steady stream of more Godwits followed, in various groups.

As the water receded, more mud was appearing out in the harbour, and there were now lots of waders out feeding on it. As well as all the Black-tailed Godwits, we managed to find a couple of Bar-tailed Godwits too. Several Curlew were walking around, probing their long bills into the mud. A careful scan added a small party of Knot, a Turnstone and we even located the Curlew Sandpiper out in the harbour – much better views than when it zipped past us earlier. However, the prize for the smartest wader went to the stunning summer plumage Grey Plover, still sporting its jet black face and belly.

Suddenly, all the waders took flight. We turned to see a Hobby shoot across the mud chasing a Dunlin. As the Dunlin turned and twisted, so the Hobby followed it close behind. When the first Hobby backed off, a second Hobby appeared and stooped at it, the two of them taking turns for a few seconds. It was exciting stuff to watch, but they seemed to lose interest quite quickly and the Dunlin managed to get away, despite being outnumbered.

6O0A0105Spoonbill – flew out from the Fen to one of the saltmarsh channels

As we turned to walk back, a Kingfisher called and flew down the channel behind us in a flash of blue, before disappearing round the corner. Back up on the seawall,a couple of Common Sandpipers flew along channel and landed further up by the sluice. One flew out into the water to bathe and we got a great look at it through the scope. One of the Spoonbills took off from the Fen and flew straight towards us. It looked like it was going to drop down into the harbour channel, but a walker happened to be passing along the path just at that moment and spooked it, and the two Common Sandpipers too.

6O0A0115Chiffchaff – a good number were with the tit flock

When we got back to the steps, we could hear a flock of tits calling from the bushes. They made their way along the hedgerow, into a sheltered corner, where they paused to feed for a while. As well as the Long-tailed Tits, Blue and Great Tits, there were a good number of Chiffchaffs, although they were constantly on the move, flitting through the foliage or flycatching.

A much paler bird popped its head out briefly – grey crown and bright white throat. It was a very smart Lesser Whitethroat. It was hard to get onto at first, hiding in the dense hawthorns, but eventually gave itself up for us to see. As the flock moved on through, we saw several Blackcaps pass by as well. We followed the birds back along the path, flitting between the willows along the river bank ahead of us.

6O0A0120Lesser Whitethroat – also with the tit flock

We drove back to Holkham for lunch, and afterwards walked west from Lady Anne’s Drive on the southern edge of the pines. It was rather quiet here at first. A Goldcrest was singing half-heartedly from the top of a Holm Oak. A single Little Grebe was on Salt’s Hole, diving continually.

At Washington Hide, a juvenile Marsh Harrier appeared up from the reeds and circled round. A Kestrel and a Common Buzzard were both perched on bushes out on the grazing marshes. We walked along the boardwalk to take a quick look at the beach. We could hear another tit flock in the trees and a Treecreeper called from high in the pines above our heads. Looking out to sea, the cloud had descended again but we could hear a couple of Sandwich Terns and just see them beyond the beach.

We had a look out from Joe Jordan Hide. There were lots of Little Egrets flying in and out of the trees and several Cormorants perched up in the branches. Out on the muddy edge of the pool, we could see rather distant Green and Common Sandpipers, one of each. A Marsh Harrier circled round the wood and another landed on the grass down by the pool, the latter bearing green wing tags but too distant to read them. Further over, a Hobby kept flying out from a dead tree, hawking for insects over the marshes, before flying back to its perch, at one point attracting the unwanted attention of one of the local Jays!

There was just about enough time to carry on out to the dunes. Despite the cool and cloudy conditions, there were still some insects out. Several Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters patrolled over the vegetation by the path. A few Spotted Woods were the only butterflies of note today. Representing the amphibians, a young Common Toad hopped slowly across the path.

6O0A0123Common Toad – hopped across the path

It seemed rather quiet at first out in the dunes, exposed and cool in the breeze, apart from a few Meadow Pipits. We continued on to a more sheltered area and, as we walked up over a rise, we could see several birds on the fence ahead of us. As we watched, two Whinchats and a pair of Stonechats kept dropping down from the wires onto the ground below and back up again.

WhinchatWhinchat – here’s one in the Dunes a couple of weeks ago

Then a Wheatear appeared as well, flashing its white rump as it flew up onto a fencepost. When it dropped back down onto the short grass, we could see a second Wheatear too, further back.

WheatearWheatear – also taken on a sunnier day a couple of weeks ago!

We watched the Whinchats, Stonechats and Wheatears for a while, getting great views of all three species through the scope. Eventually they started to work their way back further into the dunes. Time was getting on and we could see dark clouds gathering away to the west, so it seemed sensible to make our way back. With one last look at one of the Whinchats, perched high in a bush on the top of the dunes, we turned to go.