I met up with Dad for the day. On the way to the beach a Reed Bunting showed really nicely in the early morning sun. This adult male is moulting into breeding plumage by wearing away the brown-fringed head feathers to reveal the blacker colours below.
On the sea a single Slavonian Grebes drifted off shore and a distant Red-throated Diver appeared briefly but was then elusive. I later saw the diver again, it had drifted almost the full length of the Isle of Wight towards Lepe on the rising tide. Even at long range the up-tilted bill and slender flat chested appearance were obvious. Five Red-breasted Mergansers headed west and a single Razorbill was sat on the sea out from the cottages.
A Dartford Warbler was calling again from the bushes near Mary Monts. There aren’t as many individuals as last winter, perhaps three or four this year compared to maybe six or seven last year.
De L’Orne was fairly quiet with rising numbers of Avocet, now 17, and a single Spoonbill. The highlight of the day was managing a decent photo of a Cetti’s Warbler, a difficult species to see well. They do sometimes appear on the edge of the reeds, cocking their tail and showing well for a few seconds, thankfully we were ready in Venner Hide. You can see the long, dark centered and pale tipped undertail coverts. You can even see that Cetti’s Warblers have only ten tail feathers and also very short primaries typical of short range migrants.
A Jay flew along Warren Lane, one of the common species we missed on Saturday’s bird race. We headed over to Park Shore to see if we could find any Crossbills. They start getting active much earlier than other breeding birds and I’d seen and heard them in December and January last year in the small pine copse at the top of Park Lane. No luck today. It’s also a good area for Coal Tit here but again no luck. Thankfully the Cattle Egrets were still around Park Farm although the cattle appear to have been taken in now. The egrets were hanging around the horses near the farm. This one showing just a hint of summer plumage on the crown.
In the grassy fields on the walk to the beach there were at least 25 Redwing and off shore there were another two Slavonian Grebes. Three Mediterranean Gulls were roosting on the sea with the Black-headed Gulls.
After Dad headed home I decided to walk the spit however with the tide at 2.8m there were still waders roosting and the tide was still close to breaching the shingle close to Teal Point. On a falling tide the saltmarsh inside the shingle beach is also flooded to a greater degree than the same height of tide on a rising tide. This is presumably because the saltmarsh holds water temporarily even as the tide falls. In any case I decided that there were too many wildfowl using the saltmarsh and too many waders roosting on the spit for me to walk out.
Instead, I walked to the cottages and looked through the wader roost from there. 112 Knot was my highest count to date although I noticed that more than 400 have previously been recorded on WeBS for ‘Beaulieu/Lepe’. I’m not sure where these birds roost.