I met up with Dimitri at 8am, we started with some sea watching from Mary Monts. Two Ravens cronked overhead as we set up and there were four or more Great Crested Grebes strung out along Warren Shore. A Razorbill was close in, now a regular sight this winter.
The highlight was four dapper Slavonian Grebes in a very compact group, it was brilliant to see four birds so close together.
A male Red-breasted Merganser flew west and then two females lingered for most of the day out from Mary Monts. Also heading west were several Eider.
After a lull in sea activity we headed over to the hides and as we emerged from the Main Hedge there were three White-tailed Eagles on the ground in the flooded fields. Despite their captive origins they don’t seem accustomed to humans and they had flown before we had even got to the Viewing Gate.
On De L’Orne Scrape there were 51 Black-tailed Godwit. This is very similar to my previous highest winter count which was 52 on 17th December 2020 (Exbury Fields). This suggests that a population of around 50 birds winter here.
Three Greenshank were active and regularly flying around the scrape, this is the first time I’ve seen more than two during any winter count (December and January). The Spoonbill group which has settled at a consistent fourteen were again on show here, all of them asleep.
On the walk back along the hedge I always scan the fields carefully, particularly to the west, for a possible Water Pipit but again no luck. In fact pipits of any species are very difficult to pick out in the long grass. There were 19 Pied Wagtails on the damp parts of Wedge Field. My high counts of this species this year (19, 20 and 25) have all been in these three adjacent fields – Wedge Field, Middle Field and Droveway East.
At the Sailing Club a vocal Rock Pipit was calling from the roof of the Warden’s Hut and in the distance a Pale-bellied Brent Goose was roosting on Inchmery Saltmarsh. Even at this distance, perhaps a kilometer, the angle allows you to see the pale central underbelly which makes the black breast stand out.
What I believe is the same individual was then picked up by Dimitri as we sea watched for a second time from Mary Monts. Really nice to get some flight photos, you can really see the strong contrast between chest and belly and the much paler area around and behind where the legs would be. These areas can be difficult to see well when the geese are grazing.