With a forecast for south-westerlies gusting to 42mph I headed to the beach for a 7am start. Ian met me there and Joost, Simon and Dimitri also joined later.
On the way down W Lane I got my stuff ready at the pull over near the gate. This gave me the chance to listen for Nuthatch in the woodland opposite. I was pleased to record one calling just a few seconds before I was ready to give up, a patch tick and a difficult bird at NO.
Down at the beach I was tight in against the large bush which meant that I was nicely sheltered. Most birds were heading east with the highlights in a four hour sea-watch being 2 Gannets, 8 Kittiwakes, 10 Eider, a Sandwich Tern and three Sand Martins in off the sea. Gannet is a patch tick but overall it was perhaps a disappointing return given the conditions. Having said that it is probably still a few weeks early and birders at the usually better Milford Shelter had a similar tally.
My earliest Wheatears over the years have all been in the final week of March and so Dimitri and I headed back to the car via the fence-line to see if we could find one. Dimitri noticed a passerine running along the base of the fence and right on cue it was a female Wheatear. A male had been seen in this area yesterday, males have a blacker face mask, are darker blue and with blacker wings.
newly arrived female Wheatear top photo by Ian Williamson
Over on JV 15 Black-tailed Godwit were feeding at the water’s edge with some in full summer plumage and others still to start their moult. There were two more Sand Martins hawking over BW and on the wet fields behind I was delighted to relocate the female Garganey just over 1km from where it was first seen last Sunday. There are plenty of wet areas here which are obscured from view and given the distance it had moved it’s not surprising that it had gone missing.
summer and winter plumaged Black-tailed Godwits
Out from the Sailing club three Knot roosted facing into the wind and it was clear that the number of Dark-bellied Brent Geese had fallen significantly. A male Wheatear showed briefly in the gorse and a female Red-breasted Merganser flew into land in front of us.