Tag Archives: Temminck’s Stint

27th April 2016 – Five Days of Spring, Part 1

Day 1 of a five day Spring Migration tour today. A few migrants are continuing to get through, despite the rather unseasonably cold weather at the moment, so we set off east along the coast to try to catch up with some of them.

We made a brief stop at Cley on the way. A Wryneck has been in various gardens here for five days now, and was reported briefly first thing again today. By the time we arrived, it had not been seen again for a couple of hours. We had a quick look in the garden where it was seen yesterday, but as there was no sign of it there we decided not to hang around as we had other places we wanted to visit.

Our first destination proper was Kelling. The walk down the lane was rather quiet and fewer warblers than normal were singing in the cold wind. We did hear a Goldcrest singing and it was kind enough to come out and show itself. Further down, by the Water Meadow, there were several Common Whitethroat singing and one perched up nicely so we could see it, after performing a quick song flight. There was a nice ‘dopping’ of Shelduck in one of the fields – they are often to be found flying around here looking for burrows in which to nest.

6O0A1232Shelduck – this ‘dopping’ was in a field by the Water Meadow

There has been a Ring Ouzel or two in the area here for about a week now. They seem to be lingering, presumably waiting for conditions to improve for their onward journey to Scandinavia. A quick scan along their favoured hedge revealed a single Ring Ouzel hopping about on the short grass. A bit like a Blackbird, through the scope, we could see the distinctive white crescent on the breast. A few Wheatear could be seen distantly in the same field.

Ring OuzelRing Ouzel – a photo from a couple of days ago here

A scan of the Water Meadow produced the usual selection of wildfowl – the pair of Egyptian Geese with four goslings, a few Shoveler swimming round with their heads down and three Teal hiding in the vegetation round the edge. This despite the best efforts of the male Egyptian Goose, which seems intent on chasing away all the ducks, as they obviously pose a grave threat to his offspring!

As we stood looking at the Water Meadow, we heard a Yellow Wagtail call and turned to see it flying low over the grass. It circled once, then flew up and made to carry on west, but once it felt the strength of the wind it turned back and dropped down onto the grass. We just had time to get it in the scope – a smart male, with bright yellow head and underparts – before it was off again.

A tern appeared briefly overhead – it seemed to come from inland and continued straight on towards the sea. It was an Arctic Tern, with very buoyant flight and long tail. They have been on the move this week and several groups have been seen inland at various lakes and gravel pits. A nice surprise here on the coast.

There were a few waders on the pool – a pair of Avocets and a couple of Redshank. Another birder, walking ahead of us, flushed a Common Sandpiper from the far corner which thankfully landed back on the edge with the Avocets. We got it in the scope and watched it bobbing its way along the side of the pool.

We stopped to have a closer look at a couple of Skylarks out on the short grass. There are always lots of Meadow Pipits here, one of which entertained us with its parachute display flight. Several Linnets were in the bushes, a Reed Bunting called from the reeds and a smart male Stonechat perched on a fence post.

We were almost down to the beach when a shout from a local birder halfway up the hillside alerted us to a Cuckoo. We raced up and there was no sign of it at first where it had landed, but then it flew out of the bushes pursued by a couple of Meadow Pipits and circled round before disappearing over the brow. We continued on to the top of the ridge but couldn’t find it again. However, we did find three Wheatears in the top of the sheep field, including a smart bandit-masked male. They were very close from this side and we got superb views through the scope.

IMG_3237Wheatear – showing well in the sheep field

It was a bit exposed and windy up on the ridge here, so after a good look at the Wheatears we walked back down and started to make our way back up the lane. Rounding the corner by the Water Meadow, we flushed a Ring Ouzel from the top of the brambles. A quick scan from round on the other side confirmed there were actually two of them still here today, with the Ring Ouzel we had seen earlier still present further along, where we had left it.

While we had been at Kelling, news had come through of a pair of Garganey freshly arrived at Felbrigg Park. As it is only a short drive from here, we decided to go there to try to see them.We could hear a Nuthatch in the trees as we walked down towards the lake, a Jay flew across, a female Kestrel perched high in a tree in a sheltered spot scanning the grass below and a pair of Mistle Thrushes were feeding out in the meadow.

It didn’t take long to find the Garganey, in the flooded meadow just before we got to the lake. They were feeding in amongst the vegetation at first, but as we stood and watched they came out into the open. We could see the striking white stripe on the head of the male.

IMG_3250Garganey – this pair were in Felbrigg Park today

After watching the Garganey for a bit, we set off for a walk round the lake. There were lots of Sand Martins hawking for insects over the meadows and the water, plus a couple of Swallows. Apart from a few Tufted Duck and Teal, plus the usual Mallards, there weren’t many ducks on here today. Down by the meadows on the far side, we heard the yaffle of a Green Woodpecker and turned to see it perched down on the grass, catching the sun.

IMG_3268Green Woodpecker – out on the grass beyond the lake

There were a few tits in the trees as we walked back through the woods on the other side of the lake. A pair of Marsh Tits were the highlight here – we could hear them calling as they worked their way through the trees towards us. A Great Spotted Woodpecker called from deeper in the wood. A couple of Chiffchaffs were singing.

On the walk back past the flooded meadow, the Garganey were still present, hiding in the vegetation again. A couple of Common Snipe dropped in and disappeared straight into cover, but eventually one just showed itself. Then it was back to the car for a late lunch. While we were eating, a pair of Nuthatches were calling from the trees just above us.

6O0A1273Nuthatch – a pair were in the trees above us at lunchtime

After lunch, we dropped back down to Cley. The Wryneck had been seen again at one point during the morning, but had now disappeared again. However, a Temminck’s Stint had put in an appearance out on the reserve, so we decided to go to look for that instead. We had been advised to go to Bishop Hide first. On the walk there, we saw a Spoonbill flying off west across the reserve.We could hear Sedge Warblers singing, but they were mostly keeping tucked down out of the wind today. Eventually we found one singing from the safety of a bramble bush beside the path.

6O0A1288Sedge Warbler – mostly singing from deep in the bushes today

There were a few raptors up now in the sunshine. A Common Buzzard was circling over the fields just the other side of the road and a Marsh Harrier was over the reeds. When we got a bit closer to the latter, we could see it was a male Marsh Harrier carrying nest material. It dropped into the reeds and flushed a female, which circled for a while before flying back to the nest and ousting the male.

6O0A1292Marsh Harrier – a female circled over the reeds

When we got in to Bishop Hide, we quickly found the Temminck’s Stint – but it was right over the other side in front of Teal Hide. We had a quick look at it through the scope anyway, in the heat haze, but it was not a great view. There were several other species of wader on here too – plenty of Avocets and a good number of Black-tailed Godwits.

6O0A1303Avocet – feeding in front of Bishop Hide

There were also a few Ruff. As waders go, Ruff are one of the most confusing at the best of times. But with the males in various stages of moult into summer plumage, the colours of which are hugely variable, no two look alike at the moment!

6O0A1309Ruff – several today, but no two looking alike!

We decided to make our way round to Teal Hide for a better look at the Temminck’s Stint. On the way, we could hear Bearded Tits calling from the reedbed. Thankfully when we got round there, the Temminck’s Stint was still where we had last seen it, on the island in front of Teal Hide. We had much better views of it from here, creeping round on the mud, before something spooked it and it flew off further away.

IMG_3287Temminck’s Stint – much better views from Teal Hide

We had seen most of the birds on here from the other side, but a few more Ruff added to the variety in this species we had observed today. A single Greenshank was feeding in the corner of the scrape, looking very elegant next to the larger, dumpier godwits. A Grey Heron was stalking along the edge of the reeds at the back, neck outstretched, looking for something to catch. A Water Rail squealed from the reedbed. A Brown Hare ran along the bank in front of the hide until it saw everyone inside, then turned and sprinted off in the other direction.

We had a look in Dauke’s Hide, but the water level on here has risen in the past few ayds and there was very little on the scrape here today, apart from the ubiquitous Avocets and Black-tailed Godwits. A pair of Shoveler dropped into the channel in front of the hide and the female swum straight in to the near bank without any fear while the male lurked further over calling nervously. We could see their enormous shovel-like bills.

6O0A1319Shoveler – sporting a huge shovel-like bill

On the way back, we just had time for a quick last look in the gardens as we walked past, but there was still no sign of the Wryneck in any of its favourite spots. Then we headed for home.

15th May 2015 – North by Northwest

Day 1 of a long weekend of tours today and we headed up to the North-West Norfolk coast. It was cloudy in the morning, sunny later on but dry and warm all day with a light northerly wind.

P1000865Goldfinch – coming down to feed on dandelion heads by the road at Choseley

The Dotterel have been in the fields at Choseley for about three weeks now, though exact numbers have varied from day to day. That was our first post of call today and they were in their usual field. They were distant at first, but we walked along the track towards the drying barns and while we were doing so, they started to run closer. There were other birds in the hedgerows as well – a couple of Goldfinch came down to feed on the dandelion clocks by the road, a bright male Yellowhammer sang from the top of a hawthorn and a Lesser Whitethroat rattled from the hedge nearby. There were lots of Brown Hares in the field too.

IMG_4718Dotterel – three of the 22+ at Choseley today

The Dotterel were hard to count. When they stop and crouch they do a very good impression of stones in the field! They were also split into two groups. The group that came towards us included 19 birds and at least 3 more were over the other side of the field, making a minimum of 22 in total. A very good size trip indeed. We spent some time watching them running around, the females with their bright orange and dark chestnut bellies, white breast stripe and bright white superciliums, and the duller-looking males. Smart birds.

We drove round to the drying barns afterwards, stopping on the way to admire various things. Our first Wheatear of the day, a female, was perched on top of a rock on the bare earth beside the road. There is no shortage of Red-legged Partridges here, but a single male Grey Partridge was feeding quietly close to one of the hedges. We had even better views of two pairs of Grey Partridge later on, opposite the drying barns. But on our way there, we stopped to look at a Corn Bunting singing from the wires, and to listen to its song, like jangling keys.

P1000870Corn Bunting – singing from the wires by the road

From there, we drove over to Holme and walked out past the golf course to the paddocks. There were lots of Whitethroats singing from the bushes, and several Blackcaps as well. We could hear a Turtle Dove purring from the trees nearby, but we couldn’t see it. However, we did see one more distantly, performing a song flight the other side of the houses along the access road. We decided to go for a walk and try again on our way back. There were a few butterflies on the wing, despite the cloud and light breeze, with several Wall and a single Green Hairstreak the most notable.

P1000874Wall – there were several of these butterflies in the dunes today

As we walked towards the dunes, we stopped to scan the grazing marshes across the road. Down in the grass were a couple of cracking male Greenland Wheatears, sporting a wash of burnt orange across the throat and upper breast.A female Wheatear was feeding on the short grass in the dunes further along. There were lots of Swifts up in the sky above, making their way slowly west. A pair of Marsh Harriers circled up, pursued by all and sundry – Jackdaws, Lapwings and Avocets. There were Curlews on the beach, Redshanks on the saltmarsh, and we flushed a Common Sandpiper from the edge of one of the puddles. We got half way through the dunes before it was time to head back.

Back at the paddocks, a bubbling call from the bushes alerted us to the presence of a female Cuckoo. We stopped for a second and eventually she flew out past us and away towards the houses, giving us great flight views as she went. At the far end, we could hear the Turtle Dove purring again, from the trees, but we still couldn’t see it at first. However, waiting patiently for a short while and it flew out and landed in the tops of the trees, where we could get it in the scope for all to see. As we walked back to the car, we could hear the Turtle Dove purring all the way.

P1000878Turtle Dove – purring in the paddocks at Holme

After lunch, we drove back to Titchwell. On the walk out to the reserve, we stopped to listen to a Grasshopper Warbler reeling from the Thornham grazing marsh. There were several Reed Warblers singing, appropriately enough, from the reeds, but the Sedge Warblers were a little more reticent today. We heard snatches of song and saw them moving around from bush to bush. The Cetti’s Warblers were as noisy, and as secretive, as ever.

We picked up our first House Martins of the day over the reedbed. There were lots of them, flying back and forth, feeding, as well as several Swallows. As we watched them, they started to trickle off west over the bank. There were loads of Swifts here too.

Scanning the Freshmarsh from Island Hide, we could see a good selection of waders. A little throng of smaller waders on one of the closer islands caught the eye first, with a mixture of mostly Dunlin and Ringed Plover, about 15 of each. Many of the Dunlin were in summer plumage, with rusty-toned upperparts and sporting smart black belly patches. The Ringed Plover were a bit smaller and darker than our regular breeding birds – these were Tundra Ringed Plover (subspecies tundrae), stopping off on their way to breeding grounds further north. Behind them were a couple of beautiful summer plumage Turnstones, with rusty-orange backs and white faces, while a little huddle of around 20 had gathered on one of the islands further back.

Equally smart, was a stunning summer plumage Grey Plover nearby, sporting a very fetching black belly, breast and face. There are not so many Black-tailed Godwit here at the moment, but a single rusty-coloured summer plumaged bird certainly drew our attention. Not far away, a small group of Bar-tailed Godwits were mostly asleep. The majority were still in grey-brown winter plumage, but a couple of them were equally rusty-coloured, if not more so. No trip to Titchwell would be complete without a stop to admire the Avocets.

P1000889Avocet – showing well from Island Hide, as usual

There were several Common Terns around the freshmarsh, plus plenty of gulls. Herring Gulls of varous ages were mostly asleep, along with a few young Common Gulls. However, amongst them, a couple of gulls instantly stood out. They were clearly much smaller, and they were swimming round in circles, picking at insects on the water’s surface, Little Gulls. Scanning across and another couple were over to towards the reeds. These were immature birds, 1st summers, most of them sporting a patchy black hood to a greater or lesser degree, but with black markings in the wings which showed as an inverted ‘w’ pattern when they flew.

IMG_4726Little Gull – 2 of the 4 on the freshmarsh today

From round at the Parrinder Hide, we finally located the prize birds of the freshmarsh today – two Temminck’s Stints. They were feeding very furtively on one of the muddy islands, close to or amongst the emerging vegetation, and when they felt threatened they crouched down. They were so well camouflaged, with their brown colours, they were very hard to see against the mud. Nearby, we admired the golden eye-rings on a couple of Little Ringed Plover.

The number of ducks continues to decline,  but there was a single drake Wigeon on the freshmarsh today, although the Teal seem to have disappeared. The Mallard already have lots of ducklings and there were still several Shoveler and plenty of Gadwall. Brent Goose numbers also appear to be dropping now, with only a very small number coming in to the freshmarsh to bathe today.

P1000899Gadwall – the connoisseur’s duck

The tide was high this afternoon, which was why several of the waders had gathered on the freshmarsh. There was very little on the Volunteer Marsh, except a single Little Egret.

P1000900Little Egret – by the path on the Volunteer Marsh

Four Little Terns had dropped in to the freshmarsh to bathe while we were in Parrinder Hide, and when they landed beside a couple of Common Terns, gave us a good size comparison so we could see just how small they are. However, a couple of Little Terns were on the mud on the tidal pools close to the path and we got even better, close-up views through the scope. We also watched one of them fishing nearby, hovering and dropping down to splash into the water. The beach was fairly quiet today, with the tide in, but we did see a couple of Sandwich Terns offshore.

IMG_4739Little Tern – great scope views on the tidal pools today

P1000903Little Tern – 1 was fishing right by the path

As we walked back from the beach, past the freshmarsh, a Hobby flashed by and zoomed out across the saltmarsh. We had also seen a Peregrine earlier, when we were watching the Temminck’s Stints on the way out, and as we passed Island Hide, we picked it up again, circling high over the edge of the reedbed.

We just had enough time for a quick look at Patsy’s Reedbed. Willow Warblers were singing from the sallows on the walk out there. This has been the most reliable place in recent weeks to catch up with the Red-crested Pochard and we were not to be disappointed today. Three drakes were feeding directly in front of the screen and another pair were right over the back of the pool. Then it was time to call it a day and head back.

IMG_4757Red-crested Pochard – one of five on Patsy’s Reedbed

4th August 2014 – Spoonbills, waders & the Heath

A Private Tour today, we were aiming to have a relaxed day of general birding in the Cley area. We started on the Heath. The Bell Heather is in bloom at the moment, covering the landscape with a swathe of purple and alive with honey bees. This is interspersed with patches of the bright yellow flowers of the low-growing Western Gorse. All of which provides a stunning backdrop.

We heard the Turtle Dove before we saw it – the delicate purring carries a surprising distance. We eventually picked it up sitting in a dead branch in the top of a birch tree. Through the scope we could see the distinctive rusty-fringed wing feathers and black-barred neck-side patch. When another pair of Turtle Doves flew over, it launched itself into a display flight, a clatter of wingbeats up into the air, before gliding slowly back down to perch in another dead tree. We heard the purring repeatedly through the morning, but the bird itself was often hard to see. Turtle Doves are now so sparsely distributed, it is always a joy to see and hear them.

P1080421-002Turtle Dove – the Heath is one of the best places to see them these days

The Dartford Warblers are feeding young again at the moment, their third brood of a very successful breeding season. It took us a while to find them, but we stumbled across the male bringing food back repeatedly to a small patch of gorse. He was hard to see at first, feeding low in the purple heather, but our patience was rewarded when he eventually perched up on top giving us great views. We also saw a stub-tailed young juvenile, which he led away from the path into the cover of some thick gorse.

There were also lots of Yellowhammers, several Skylarks and Linnets; a Green Woodpecker laughed loudly, before bounding across the heather to the pines. Bullfinches called from the trees but wouldn’t come out. There are plenty of butterflies out at the moment – on the Heath we saw lots of Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns, Graylings and a Small Copper.

P1080439Grayling – so well camouflaged, they can be hard to see on the ground

Our next stop was Stiffkey Fen. On the walk out, we stopped to watch a family of Buzzards circling up over the wood. The hedges were alive with mixed post-breeding flocks of tits, warblers and finches. Out on the Fen itself, the Spoonbill flock totalled 14, the high tide having pushed them out of the harbour to roost.

P1080450Spoonbill – 9 of the 14 at the Fen this morning

There was also a very good selection of waders – several each of Green and Common Sandpipers, lots of Black-tailed Godwit and a Ruff, 20 Greenshank and plenty of Redshank, loads of Dunlin, a Knot still mostly in its orange-red summer plumage, Snipe, Little Ringed Plover, Avocet and Oystercatcher. There was a glorious view out across the harbour to Blakeney Point – as we were admiring it, a juvenile Peregrine flew over, pursued by a large mob of angry terns!

P1080449Blakeney Point – a stunning view out from Stiffkey Fen this morning

We headed to Cley for lunch – we sat out side and while we were eating, we admired the view across the reserve. Another large flock of Spoonbills flew in and landed out on North Scrape, a Sparrowhawk flew across the scrapes and spooked all the birds, a family of Avocets circled round in front of us – not bad for a lunch break!

Next, we walked out to the East Bank. The Bearded Tits were proving elusive, but the Marsh Harriers put on a good display, both a tatty male and a pristine chocolate-brown juvenile. At Arnold’s Marsh, the large creche of noisy terns gave us the chance to look closely at both Sandwich and Common Terns. More waders included a large flock of Curlew and a single Sanderling, still mostly in summer plumage and looking much more colourful than the silvery grey birds we are used to seeing in winter. On the walk back, a family party of Bearded Tits finally let us glimpse them through the reeds and gave fleeting flight views.

The light was perfect by this time to head out to the hides. The scrapes were teeming with waders, lots of godwits and sandpipers as we had seen earlier at Stiffkey.There were lots more Ruff, in various plumages – moulting males and the much smaller females (Reeves), plus a scaly-backed juvenile, looking completely different again. However, there were also some new ones for the day. A black-bellied Golden Plover lurked among the Lapwings. A close look through the Dunlin revealed a bird which was slightly bigger and with a distinctive downcurved bill – a Curlew Sandpiper – this one moulting out of its bright red-orange summer plumage. And finally a tiny shape creeping around the mud on the edge of the grass revealed itself to be a Temminck’s Stint, eventually coming out into the open so we could get a good look at it.

P1080424Curlew Sandpiper – an adult moulting out of summer plumage

A great way to end the day – almost. On the walk back to the car park, the distinctive ‘ping’ of a Bearded Tit revealed a bird which perched up briefly before flying away across the reeds. Perfect!

P1080445Common Darter – still plenty of dragonflies around

P1080458Goldfinch – lots of plain-faced juveniles among the red & black-faced adults

20th May 2014 – Firecrests in North Norfolk

Half day private tour today, I had been asked about the possibility of seeing Firecrests. There was not enough time to get down to the Brecks, where they are often easier to see, but they do breed in North Norfolk, mostly along the Holt-Cromer ridge. However, they are very localised and can sometimes be hard to find, particularly if they are not singing. Always nice to have a challenge, we thought we would give it a go.

We started off with a female Yellow Wagtail which dropped into the paddocks – good to see one away from the coast, and on the ground rather than flying over. Several Garden Warblers were singing, and gave us a chance to compare with nearby Blackcaps – one of the trickier pairs of songs to tell apart. As we walked through the woods on the ridge, we heard Goldcrests singing, which we spent a few minutes listening to, to give us a reference to compare with. We stopped at a couple of likely clumps of fir trees, then a short snatch of song ahead alerted us to the presence of a Firecrest. It was only half singing, and just occasionally, but as we followed it for a while, we realised that it was gathering food. A second bird appeared, also carrying food, and we watched them both going back and forth into the firs – we had found a nesting pair. The male had not been especially vocal until a Goldcrest approached the nest site from the other side, singing. At that point, the male Firecrest burst into full song and sang repeatedly for several minutes. A real treat to watch.

With the main challenge complete, we dropped back down to Cley to see some waders. There was lots of activity, with 3 Temminck’s Stints, a Little Stint, 35 Tundra Ringed Plovers together with a Little Ringed Plover to compare with, 2 lovely red Knot, Greenshank, and a particularly handsome breeding-plumaged male Ruff shepherding 4 Reeves, not to mention all the commoner waders.

Quite a morning!

16th May 2014 – Birds & Butterflies

A glorious sunny day today – it felt like summer. We started at Stiffkey Fen with a nice Small Copper on the path. A Greenshank was trying to hide among the large flock of Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits and two Little Ringed Plovers lurked on one of the islands. Several Reed and Sedge Warblers perched up in the reedy edge of the channel, giving us a good opportunity to compare songs and birds. Out in the harbour, Little, Common and Sandwich Terns put on a good show and a cracking adult Mediterranean Gull circled overhead calling. Still plenty of Brent Geese were lingering on the saltmarsh, with a smattering of winter waders out on the mud.

On the heath, a large number of Green Hairstreaks were fluttering about in the heather. The song of a male Dartford Warbler led us to a pair chasing through the gorse – we followed them for a while and suddenly the male performed a song flight right in front of us, fluttering across the path and landing on the top of a stem perched out in the sun. A single Woodlark was located quietly feeding, before a male burst into song behind us – at first perched in a tree, he flew up over the heath, his slightly mournful song a contrast to all the Skylarks we had heard during the morning.

Back to Cley, and the Temminck’s Stint was still present, along with Greenshank, several Common Sandpipers, Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers, more Black-tailed Godwits and a couple of Dunlin. A White Wagtail was on one of the scrapes and a single Wheatear was by the beach.

A great day to be out.

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8th May 2014 – A Day of Two Halves

Perhaps not quite two halves. The plan was to explore the Heaths in the morning, and spend the afternoon around Cley, but we couldn’t resist a quick visit to the reserve first thing to see the Temminck’s Stint, which showed very well. Several other waders were on the scrapes, including two Little Ringed Plovers, and a Cuckoo flew over calling while we were there. It was dull, overcast and rather breezy first thing in the morning, but the forecast was for rain, so we moved on quickly to try to secure the target species.

Up to the Heaths. At the first site for Nightingale, there was no sound, possibly due to the windy and cool conditions, but a smart Hobby hung in the air above us, before zooming off over the trees. We tried another location and, after a few minutes waiting and with our hopes starting to fade, a very quiet, croaking ‘tuk, tuk’ could just be heard from the bushes in front of us. Another couple of minutes and it burst into song –  already starting so loud, at one point it seemed to increase the volume even further to compete with the sound of a passing car. Such an amazing sound and it always feels like an honour to be able to stand and listen.

We moved on again and quickly caught up with our next target, a male Dartford Warbler working its way through the gorse and heather before bursting into song and song-flighting past us. A careful scan of a favoured area then yielded two Woodlarks feeding quietly in a clearing. The rain had held off all morning, but as it started to drizzle it felt like we would miss out on our final heathland target, but a thorough search eventually gave us two Turtle Doves flying overhead and dropping into the trees.

Back to the coast for the afternoon. Despite the rain, we managed to find several Yellow Wagtails feeding amongst the cattle, a very smart male Whinchat, several Wheatears and a White Wagtail. Unexpectedly, the rain stopped, the wind dropped and it brightened up a little later on. As it did so, a male Marsh Harrier flew in over the reedbed, a larger female circled up from below and he dropped the food he was carrying for her to catch in front of us. Bearded Tits started calling and one flew out and perched obligingly, and the Reed and Sedge Warblers began singing. A quick walk down to the sea produced the surprise of the day – a late Red-throated Diver on the sea.

So, a day which looked like it might be a struggle with the weather turned out to be a great success. Just goes to show, there’s no excuse for not going out!

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