There were lots of Whitethroats, Chiffchaffs and Sand Martins on the move today. On Gravelly Marsh every bird I lifted my binoculars for seemed to be a Whitethroat. Providing a bit of variety a Lesser Whitethroat near the Water Trough was tacking at me from the bramble bush. There was also plenty of slightly harsher tacking from a handful of Blackcaps.
As has been the case all autumn the waders on Great Marsh were all on the Flight Pond, there were two Green Sandpipers and six Snipe and the 12 Black-tailed Godwit were yikkering to each other quietly. A Wheatear was sat on the barbed wire at the back of the pond.
A Tree Pipit called overhead but again I didn’t manage to see it. The grounded pipits I saw were all Meadow Pipits like the one below – bland facial expression, flank streaks as thick as breast streaks, single toned underparts and weakish bill.
The Yellow Wagtail calls are more penetrating and today they seemed to be flying lower and so it was easier to see them looping away overhead.
I checked the Guides Camp Hedge near the Cattle Grid and watched a Garden Warbler emerge from the brambles. Soon afterwards a pair of much warmer brown juvenile Reed Warblers also emerged. Grey Wagtails are now returning and there were at least two calling during the morning. Their calls are much more penetrating than Pied Wagtails as they often have to be heard above a noisy river or stream.
A female type Redstart showed very briefly in the small tree opposite the Reedy Ditch layby. I leant on the gate to check the clearing in front of Silver’s Copse and a pair of Spotted Flycatchers appeared and perched prominently.
A little further along the lane I checked Flycatcher Tree and found another pair of Spotted Flycatchers.
While there one of the Ospreys floated over Lovell’s West and a Grey Plover called in the distance. In roughly the same direction a Hobby stooped on the hirundines, mainly Sand Martins streaming east.
As I walked back down Warren Lane a superb male Redstart flicked up on to the fence line on the eastern side of Droveway South. In the autumn the bright colours are partly hidden by buffy fringes but at this range it looked really smart, already my fourth Redstart of the autumn.
Near the Shore Hide a Sparrowhawk charged past being mobbed by Swallows with the Swallows diving back in towards it and almost making contact, very brave. Migrant Hawkers were everywhere with at least 100 on the reserve. I saw my first female of the year and then a pair in cop.
A walk over to the hides produced three Whinchats on Whinchat Fence and an impressive 41 Black-tailed Godwit on De L’Orne Flood while the Green Sandpiper crept along the muddy fringe behind them.
The area in front of NFOC hide has been opened up dramatically with all of the reeds removed so that there is a clear 90 degree view and mud has been dragged to create four new islands for waders to drop on to, hopefully. Roosting on Venner Island a young Cormorant showed extensive white underparts.
On De L’Orne Scrape Greenshank numbers were up to nine and there was a new Common Sandpiper. The juvenile Knot was still present, only just identifiable in the awful heat haze. Directly in front of Calshot Tower from the De L’Orne screen the Osprey was sat in a favourite tree. A Kingfisher watched down from a fence post into the still water while a Whimbrel called as it flew over the scrape. On Blackwater Pintail numbers had increased to eight.
It was pretty warm by now and so just before heading home I checked Shore Hide Ditch and was pleased to relocate the Southern Migrant Hawker.