Saturday 11th December 2021

I headed to the Sailing Club first in case Wednesday’s Lapland Bunting was still in the area. A Greenshank called in alarm from the Slice Gate Saltmarsh and there were 10 Avocet on the river up towards the Yacht Club. On the sea five Eider headed east and four headed west and soon afterwards I saw 12 on the sea. I don’t think there were duplicates and so this is 21 altogether and my highest count at Needs Ore. One of the White-tailed Eagles flew over the Warden’s Hut.

I met up with Alan who arrived at the Sailing Club having had the same idea about bumping into the Lapland Bunting. Throughout the morning day we estimated that there were seven Razorbill strung out along the coast. We also watched a summer plumaged Guillemot.

There were three Peregrines, the breeding pair and a juvenile sat out on Gull Island showing browner upperparts and streaked underparts. 

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female Red-breasted Merganser

A pair of Red-breasted Mergansers arrived from the east. On the female above you can see the black tips to the greater coverts which form a black line across the white wing patch, Goosander lacks this line.

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male Red-breasted Merganser
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male Red-breasted Merganser

I saw my first divers of the winter and there were a minimum of four, possibly as many as eight. They were all Red-throated Divers with their bills consistently held upwards. The adults showed clean white heads and the juveniles were much duskier. In flight the characteristic head nodding action was evident. A couple showed nicely on the sea albeit distantly.

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Red-throated Divers

Before Alan arrived I did watch a distant diver which may well have been Black-throated  – neck held up straight so no sagging or head movement and with a more elongated profile due to projecting feet. Unfortunately too distant to be certain.

We decided to walk the spit to see if we could find the Lapland Bunting in amongst the Skylarks on Warren Shore. I made a quick trip to the hides first. 29 Mediterranean Gulls on De L’Orne Scrape was a good count for December and the female Scaup was still on Black Water. She has been here for nearly seven weeks now.

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1st winter female Scaup

On our walk out on the spit we regularly saw groups of Skylarks, probably twelve of them altogether but there was no Lapland Bunting calling amongst them. We did bump into the 1st winter Purple Sandpiper at point black range again.

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1st winter Purple Sandpiper
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1st winter Purple Sandpiper
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1st winter Purple Sandpiper

On our way back to the car we watched a Dartford Warbler calling on Pullen Marsh and a Fieldfare shacking in the distance.

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Dartford Warbler

Alan headed off to Blashford for the gull roost and I stopped at the Reedy Ditch where a Goshawk powered through into Silver’s Copse. At the back of the Crop Strip field the Chaffinches were flitting in and out of the corn but no Brambling. I did see a Nuthatch in the far oaks, the first one I’ve actually seen (not just heard) and also a Treecreeper and a Jay.

Nine Spoonbill flew over the Reedy Ditch heading towards Black Water and two Snipe squelched as they flushed up from Warren Corner.

On Wigeon fields there were 70 Redwing, 300 Lapwing, 30 Curlew and seven Black-tailed Godwit. As I was about to leave I picked up two Cattle Egret with the heifers around Park Farm.

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