Saturday 12th December 2020

On the drive down W Lane a noisy Greenshank called and flew up from the Reedy Ditch. There were more than 20 winter thrushes in the area of the hides with at least 15 Fieldfare and 5 Redwing. From the beach a drake Eider headed west half way out and a single Great Crested Grebe dived close in shore.


I met Dad at the Sailing Club. The nine Spoonbill were roosting on Inchmery and the 11 Avocet were again on the scrape opposite DL’O. Later the Spoonbill flew further east before landing near the mouth of the river where they began to feed. The wheeling flocks of Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Grey Plover contained a smaller number of Knot, at this distance they were little more than smaller ‘Grey Plover’ without black armpits. Later I managed to pick out around 15 Knot from the long line of waders feeding along the shoreline. A distant female Red-breasted Merganser dived in the mouth of the river. It may be the same female I have now seen on three occasions in this exact spot.

Curlew and Peregrine photos by Ian Williamson

A walk around the gorse bushes produced my first Dartford Warbler for a fortnight. Soon afterwards I heard a second bird calling and checking photos later it was evident that one bird had a ring on the right leg and the other on the left leg (left handed ringer). There is also at least one other non-ringed bird. I spoke to Graham Giddens and he confirmed that he ringed 2 Dartford Warblers on November 26th, the first birds he had seen or ringed since the Beast from the East. Both birds were first winters and although young birds can be difficult to sex in their first autumns, from the wing lengths it seems likely they were male and female.

This suggests that there are at least five Dartford Warblers in this small area. Graham’s two birds with rings on their right legs, a bird which had a ring on its right leg before Graham ringed his, the bird with a ring on its left leg and a non-ringed bird which was seen after Graham ringed his birds. Hopefully if we don’t get some adverse weather we may have breeding Dartford Warblers again in 2021.

Dartford Warbler and Linnets

It also occurred to me that I haven’t seen or heard a Spotted Redshank for a month and a Merlin for six weeks, perhaps they’ve moved elsewhere to winter.

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