Sunday 29th August 2021

I arranged to meet up with Ian and we spent the morning on Gravelly Marsh and Great Marsh. As we reached Mary Mont’s Pools it was clear that there had been an arrival of Snipe with at least three here and then another seven around the Flight Pond.

Snipe photo by Ian Williamson

A couple of Yellow Wagtails called overhead before landing on the pools. The most obvious hirundines today were the Sand Martins with at least 25 around the pools here.

Yellow Wagtail photo by Ian Williamson

Just like on my last few visits I heard another 7am Tree Pipit, this one was near the Gravelly Crossroads. There were plenty of tacking warblers moving through with a handful of Blackcaps, all males and double figures of Lesser Whitethroat.

Sand Martins photo by Dimitri Moore

Ian picked out a Redstart on Great Marsh Scrub, it disappeared for a while but a flash of red saw it reappear and show well on the top of a Hawthorn bush. A Sedge Warbler also appeared nearby.

The regular autumn Green Sandpipers were still around the Flight Pond, three in total. They flushed before we’d seen them but they returned again once we’d stopped moving. 

Green Sandpiper

As we were checking the trees around the cattle grid a Painted Lady dropped down to feed on the Fleabane.

The birding highlight of the day was a Great White Egret which appeared suddenly from the bottom end of Pullen before flying past us and on towards the hides, a patch tick.

Great White Egret

The two Ospreys were still around De L’Orne and Inchmery and there were at least three Whinchats around the flooded field area. It was nice to see two juvenile Ringed Plover on De L’Orne Scrape. There were eight young Shelduck all probably hatched at Needs Ore, five on De L’Orne and another three on Venner.  

Osprey photo by Ian Williamson

Star of the day was undoubtedly the Southern Migrant Hawker which I found patrolling the Shore Hide Ditch. There have been huge numbers of Migrant Hawkers on the wing for a week or more and I’ve been searching for a Southern Migrant Hawker amongst them. This individual was immediately noticeable as being bluer, particularly the abdomen but to a lesser degree also the thorax and even the eyes looked blue in flight.

Southern Migrant Hawker

The thorax lacked the darker bands and greenish yellow patches of Migrant Hawker and it was also obvious that the Southern Migrant Hawker was more aggressive, constantly driving off the Migrant Hawkers. I couldn’t get a flight photo but was still certain of the ID although I was grateful when it did finally settle. This is only the third record for the reserve, a patch tick for me and also a British Tick.

There was a single juvenile Knot on De L’Orne scrape viewable from the Sluice Gate and from here we heard the Kingfisher again and it then flew across in front of us to land on the fence post up the Sluice Channel.

Kingfisher photo by Dimitri Moore

Another highlight was checking an egret which was flying over the Sluice Gate. It was great to see that it was a Cattle Egret, it flew directly away from me before settling on Inchmery Marsh. Ten minutes later it was off again heading towards Lepe. All three egrets in one day, speaking to Ian later it seems that there is a definite movement of rarer egret species here in late August.

On the way home I dropped in at the Reedy Ditch to check for any migrant passerines but it was quiet, I will return again soon but earlier in the day. A Hobby did fly over our heads and an unusual sight was a line of six male Migrant Hawkers draped down from the same branch.  

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