An early start for the morning tide out on the estuary. I set up occupying the north bank of No.6 tank where I could see over the bank to watch for the cast off birds from the estuary. This was a cold cloudy morning which strayed into the afternoon backed with a stiff northerly making the light poor and the viewing uncomfortable.
An estimated flock of c1000 Black-tailed Godwit were mostly gathered beneath the south banks and to distant to gauge a true reflection of their numbers. A couple of winter plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit were typically isolated on the edge of the flock but a group of 7 (summer) + 1 (winter) Knot were most welcome.
A Peregrine shot over my head and made a bee-line to the godwit flock sending everything that was stood on the sludge tank in an explosive reaction. The falcon punched a hole right through the body of the swirling mass of godwits, an experience only Vladimir Klitschko would have felt last weekend. After all of that the Peregrine went away empty clawed! It took a few minutes before order was resumed but fortunately for me all of the waders relocated below where I was sitting. I’ll whistle that falcon again as and when required next time the birds are too distant.
When Joe (Chester) had photographed a summer plumaged Knot recently I have been eager to see one on site, now eight birds with seven in fine summer dress were feeding below me (mission accomplished). There was no sign of the Barwit’s and presumably they left for a wider vista on the estuary. The Dunlin flock reached c1200 birds but surprisingly nothing of any note was dragged with them from the river. Ringed Plover totalled 30 birds and a single Little Ringed Plover was seen.
Red Knot video here: https://vimeo.com/216307314
The Ruff action was focused on the males which were again actively attempting to attract the attention of the reeves. The females main priority was engaged in feeding so the males admiration was engaged in a lot of posturing with mock displays. A couple of new contenders joined the dance off with ‘Mr Brown’ challenging the newbie’s ‘Ginge’, ‘Junior’ and ‘Mottie’ in a bout of ‘Strictly Come Lekking’. ‘Agent Orange’ hung out again with the godwits looking the business without even trying. Endless hours of fun watching these dudes strutting their stuff on the marsh (obviously for me).
The Mute Swan herd tallied 24 birds while the usual duck suspects were present except for the Pintail pair which were on the Weaver Bend. Other birds noted there was a Common Sandpiper and a Little Ringed Plover.
The male Marsh Harrier flew in for a short while.
A steady northward movement of Swallow and 8 Common Swift hawking low over the reed beds was interesting. 3 Yellow Wagtail on over No.8 tank.
A Lesser Whitethroat and a Cetti’s Warbler dueled with each other for the noisiest singer.
Observers: Elliot Monteith (images 8-14), Paul Ralston, WSM (images 1-6).
Image 7 by Paul Miller.
Thanks to Elliot for his “record” shots. They are much appreciated.