The return of the Beast from the East had been suggested in the forecast. In the end we didn’t get the snow that was anticipated but it was certainly cold. I dusted off my pocket warmers, topped them up with lighter fluid and headed out.
First stop was the Reedy Ditch to check for any Hawfinches leaving a possible roost site, no luck unfortunately although the ringed Marsh Tit was still around. A group of around 10 Mediterranean Gulls were bathing on the shore next to MM’s. A single 1st winter bird and the rest were adults. Otherwise, the sea looked quiet.
Eventually I tracked down the four Slavonian Grebes, they were very distant, almost around the corner to the east. Over the next 45 minutes, however, they drifted on the falling tide gradually moving west until they were directly opposite me and fairly close in shore.
A male Red-breasted Merganser flew east, he obviously turned the corner into the river as I later saw him close in off the sailing club. A gorgeous bird and much rarer than they used to be, especially here.
A Golden Plover gave its plaintiff whistle somewhere overhead but I couldn’t track it down. All day I saw large groups of Lapwings displaced by the cold weather but there were no Golden Plover amongst them. In the distance, almost all of the way to Lepe, I picked up one of the Pale-bellied Brents with its white flanks gleaming in the low winter sun.
Shin-high ice spikes had formed into incredible stalagmite-like features around the edge of JV island and perhaps as a result a dense group of 30 Coot were jostling together on the grass by the edge. Nearby there were 72 Shoveler on the ice free north-eastern corner of B Water.
I saw all five thrushes today including 2 Fieldfare and 4 Mistle Thrush. The biggest numbers were of Redwing with at least 120. There were also migrant Song Thrushes flying high in groups, not their most familiar behaviour and so I may have miscounted a small number of them as Redwing although there were at least 25 Song Thrush feeding together in one field.