A cold start had me debating whether gloves and a woolly hat were required. I pulled over at the Reedy Ditch and noticed both White-tailed Eagles in the tree tops in the Venner and Black Water area. As I got to the end of the Main Hedge, one of the Eagles was in view flying low over Venner South.
At the Viewing Gate 25 Goldfinches flew up from the ground to chatter on the top of the brambles, good to see that there were at least 10 juveniles amongst them.
One of the highlights of the day was hearing the mournful plaintiff call of the first returning Golden Plover. I saw it distantly heading over Three Fields South. They no longer winter at Needs Ore in large numbers like they used to, my peak count last winter was 65 in the Exbury Fields on the 17th December.
More evidence of birds on the move were Skylarks and Siskins overhead and an amazing number of Jays, the good numbers here may be due to a failed acorn crop elsewhere. A Dunnock posed nicely along Pullen Walk.
Nearby a confiding Starling showed how far advanced their post juvenile moult is with the brown feathers around the face being the only remaining juvenile feathers.
A Herring Gull was not particularly keen to fly, perhaps not surprising given the heavy primary moult.
Brent Geese numbers were up slightly with 28 feeding alongside Gull Island at high tide and a flock of 24 Pintail circling over the Cottages was my highest site count. At the Sailing Club a fairly late Wheatear approached fairly close as I sat in the car.
Adam and I removed the two smaller end rafts from De L’Orne Lagoon so that the Black-headed Gulls could not reserve them early in the spring. In April we will position the rafts back out in the lagoon again as the Common Terns are returning and with a lure tape playing so that we can hopefully attract them to breed again. As I was helping Adam two Spoonbill flew over our heads.
Sandwich Terns are regular over winterers and the three birds towards Inchmery look likely to be doing the same again this year. I had counts of up to three birds throughout the winter last year. One of the birds came closer and landed on one of the nearer buoys.
After seeing very few butterflies all day I checked the sheltered western edge of Thrift Corner where the Sea Aster was in full sun. Lots of activity here with 4 Clouded Yellows including a pair in cop, 10 Red Admiral, 5 Peacock, 3 Common Blue, a Comma, a Small White and a Large White.