Thursday 6th May 2021

Ian and I were meeting Adam to do the May shoreline survey, this is primarily to check for the number of nesting Ringed PloverOystercatchers and also to, hopefully, find the Peregrine nest. A second shoreline survey is carried out in mid-June to look for chicks in the areas where we see evidence of territories and nests on the walk today. This whole beach is closed off from 1st March and so it’s a privilege to be invited out on this walk.

Ringed Plover photo by Ian Williamson

We’ve recently had some high spring tides in conjunction with storms and there was a very real risk that many nests including the Peregrine’s may have been washed out.

Before we all met up I checked Gt Marsh and counted 18 Avocet with four of them sitting. No sign of the Little Ringed Plover pair. There were two juvenile Stonechats around Gv Mire and two Common Terns appeared to be prospecting over Gt Marsh. A Cuckoo was calling regularly before I saw it briefly flying over Pullen. On nearby Gv Marsh there were two Lapwing pairs each with two chicks.

Stonechats adult and juvenile

I headed back towards the meeting point and was delighted to find the pair of Little Ringed Plover on the grassy shingle between the beach house and the hut. This may well be the nest site with both birds sparring with a pair of Ringed Plover who also appear to be nesting here. If successful this will be the first breeding record for NO.

Lesser Whitethroat was singing in P scrub and two Sedge Warblers were also singing from here and from the P Reeds. Pairs of both Pochard and Tufted Duck appear to be breeding on NP.

On the shoreline walk out we counted 16 Ringed Plover pairs with a similar number again behaving as though they had no nest site to defend often flying long distances along the water line, these quick to flush shoreline individuals are likely to have been washed out. Overall the numbers were better than we’d hoped. We also found a nest with two eggs.

Wheatear photo by Ian Williamson

As we got past the level of the Warden’s Hut I noticed the female Peregrine taking off several hundred yards further down the spit, I tried to get a fix on the precise location although it was difficult given how long and undulating the spit is. We continued onwards but, unfortunately, we were unable to find the nest. Lots of the usually dry shingle and sand areas appeared to be damp and the tidelines on either side of the spit were higher than usual. We also didn’t see any Peregrine kill larder sites. We got to the very end of G Island, braving a crazy attacking Oystercatcher, and we were beginning to think that the Peregrines had been washed out.

Oystercatcher

On the walk back both Peregrines appeared again circling and looking agitated, perhaps we were close to the nest and at roughly at the point where I guessed the female had left earlier I found the Peregrine nest with three eggs. The eggs were still warm, we left quickly so that the female could return. Back towards the start of the spit we noticed evidence of a kill larder with feathers, bones and an Oystercatcher’s head.

Peregrine and Ringed Plover nests

The next really high tide is in just under three weeks on the 26th May. If the weather is calm we should be OK as it’s low pressure and high winds that create higher than forecast tides and huge waves crashing over onto normally dry sections.

A wander around the rest of the reserve produced the Barnacle Goose again near JV feeding with Canada Geese on V South. On DL’O there were eight Avocets with four of them sitting. That’s the same number of apparent nests as on Gt Marsh although the Avocets on DL’O are much more prone to Great Black-backed Gull predation, we had found a Great Black-backed Gull nest on G Island. 

Egyptian Geese and chicks, Barnacle Goose and Greylag Goose

There were four Common Terns calling and flying over the lagoon and I was pleased to see two of them land on the vacant left hand raft, one of the terns moved up to the top of the posts and began calling, appearing to stake a claim to the raft. Fingers crossed that they can fend off the Black-headed Gulls.

A distant Red Kite gradually circled gradually moving closer to me on the Gins and a spring Whinchat was an exciting find on the fence line on the edge of Gins West, viewable from JV.

Common Terns including a pair on the raft and Whinchat

I saw three Wheatears today, one at the start of the shoreline walk, one on the Wigeon Fields and another at the sailing club. On the drive back home I pulled over to photograph the Green-winged Orchids in Spring Meadow, Miranda had mentioned them to Ian earlier.   

Green-winged Orchid

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