Blog Archive

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Old Habits Die Hard!

Birding on January 1st has been a given for the last 30 years or more - harder now than ever as the rigours of Christmas and the associated late nights and (dare I say) alcohol take their toll!

Sanderling by the roadside
Shellness gave an excellent reason to make the effort, with a rising tide pushing a huge number of waders up towards us and their high tide roost.   Timing was spot on and the birds performed brilliantly.

Turnstone fed on the beach within feet of us, Ringed Plover, and a very obliging Sanderling joined in - the latter vying with Pied Wagtail as it pecked around on the roadside.   Over the fields in the distance there were several Marsh Harrier and one Ring-tail - despite best efforts I couldn't get anyone else onto it and it did not re-appear sadly. :-(

Walking along the seawall towards Shellness from Leysdown gave an excellent opportunity to watch as the birds were pushed up towards us.   Brent Geese started to gather, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Oystercatcher and huge number of Knot were mixed in with Dunlin and the occasional Grey Plover. 
Oystercatchers gathering

By the time we got to Shellness the tide was virtually in but the last vestiges of mud flats held more concentrated numbers of waders.   They were busily feeding and allowed us to get quite close.   Several pairs of Stonechat were seen, the males appearing to take the higher perches on last year's dead seed heads, whilst the females stayed closer to the ground.

Mixed waders at the high tide roost - Oystercatchers in greatest number
Continuing to the end of the spit we found an area where ducks were gathered, mainly Shelduck, but there were a few Teal and the occasional Wigeon too - great to hear their whistling call across the marshes.

A Kestrel spent some time watching as we approached, perching on a post and occasionally giving a glance back before finally deciding we were getting just a little too close and flying off to land just feet inside the protected area.
Kestrel

Back at Leysdown for lunch and some time to scan the sea - the highlight being around a dozen Red-throated Diver.   

Off to Capel Fleet for some Marsh Harriers, we had around seven swirling around coming in to roost as the rain started and so it was time to head home.

Great start to the year!