With my Peregrine monitoring at 11am I decided to have a good look around Gt Marsh and Gv Marsh first. At MMs I saw that at least two of the Lapwing chicks were still around. I also saw one of the Little Ringed Plover adults again but I headed off to Gt Marsh without being able to find the 2nd bird.
There were 19 Avocet with 5 sitting but no sign of chicks yet, they have started hatching at Lymington. A colour-ringed bird proved to be a seven year old ringed at NO (at DL’O) as a chick in July 2014. It was seen at Cliffe Pools in Kent in September 2014 and it was then recorded in Suffolk in three consecutive summers (2018-2020) where it was thought to have bred.
Nearby I heard a singing warbler which I initially assumed to be a Blackcap but soon realised it wasn’t. The familiar Blackcap tends to end up with what I find a slightly disappointing and thinner fluty crescendo whereas this bird was more consistent, richer and fuller. I managed a couple of brief views and captured some audio. Garden Warbler is a patch tick for me. Lesser Whitethroats were also singing with at least five around the reserve.
I headed over to Gv Marsh to count the Lapwing chicks, there were three (four last time) although it wouldn’t surprise me if another one or two were hidden. Finding Redshank chicks is even harder, they rarely emerge from the rushes.
I then decided to spend a bit more time trying to find the second Little Ringed Plover and possibly the nest site as the habitat looked good and I’ve seen them five times since the 3rd April. Eventually the single adult was joined by the second bird which quickly returned to an area which I subsequently realised was the nest site. She sat down and over the next 30 minutes she didn’t move other than to stand up occasionally, look between her legs and adjust the presumed eggs beneath her. I contacted Adam and he jumped in the car.
Little Ringed Plover pair, female on nest, male and the four eggs
When Adam arrived we re-checked the nest position and walked towards her, she walked away as we approached. We put up nine iron posts and strung the rope around the nest site. It took us around three minutes. I grabbed a quick photo of the four eggs and soon after we had retreated we were pleased to see the female return to the nest and settle. This is the first Little Ringed Plover nest to be found at NO.
On my way to the sailing club to monitor the Peregrine nest I checked DL’O scrape from Two Bridges gate. There were two Curlew, perhaps the two I’d seen the previous Saturday. A handful spend the summer here out of the 100 or so that winter. There were also eight Avocet with three sitting and 10 summer plumaged Dunlin scurrying around, they’re on route from West Africa to their breeding grounds in Greenland. At the sailing club a pair of Pied Wagtails were feeding young in the eaves and a Grey Seal was busy eating what looked like a Cuttlefish and a couple of Gannets headed west off shore.
Just over 30 minutes into my Peregrine monitoring, at 11.36am, Alan found a Long-tailed Skua heading east over the spit at Hurst. He put the news out on the county rarity WhatsApp group. It was heading inland of the Isle of Wight and was likely heading my way! I was at the Wardens Hut and 20 minutes later it came past me, a superb adult bird with a dark cap, no white in the primaries and amazing long tail streamers. It wasn’t seen at various other places to the east where people were ready and looking and so may have taken a shortcut and headed up over the Isle of Wight, it was fairly high already. What an amazing few minutes!
Sandwich Tern and Long-tailed Skua (honest)
After the Peregrine monitoring I headed over to the hides to see if the Common Terns were still on the raft. Unfortunately the raft was unoccupied and there were no Common Terns in the vicinity. I checked the fields – either side of the walking trail, the flooded fields, Venner, Wigeon Fields and the Gins – and I saw only one Lapwing chick. Several birds were sitting, presumably incubating and so there may be more chicks soon but it was still a disappointing return.
The young White-tailed Eagle took off over the Gins giving me my closest views so far and there were 2 Black-tailed Godwit on DL’O scrape. Two Painted Lady butterflies were a patch tick newly arrived after the long run of northerlies had thankfully ended.