I headed to Park Shore and my first drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker of the year greeted me as I got out of the car. Just opposite, in the field towards Bergerie Farm, 24 noisy Egyptian Geese were squabbling and a Buzzard looked for worms.
I walked the lane between Errish House and Rye Errish House. There is a short line of conifers here and the copse opposite has been particularly productive for crests and chiffchaffs. There were at least two Firecrests and three Goldcrests and the group of three wintering Chiffchaffs were feeding in the conifers.
Every few minutes I picked out the paler beige-coloured Siberian Chiffchaff, a subtle green tinge was noticeable across all of the wing feather edges – greater coverts, primary coverts, alula, tertials, secondaries and primaries. Unfortunately it didn’t call although at one stage it did react strongly to a tristis recording I played. None of the chiffchaffs reacted to the standard collybita recordings and none of them called. The chiffchaffs appeared to be keen on this area as they were still here when I drove back several hours later.
I kept hearing a distant Fieldfare and eventually saw it in the tree tops. The two Cattle Egrets were in their normal field close to the horses around Park Farm and a Coal Tit and a Treecreeper were calling from the pines around Little Marsh Lodge.
Down on the beach the shingle islands which are revealed at mid and low tides are particularly good for Mediterranean Gulls and there were at least 25 today. Out on the sea a tightly formed group of four Slavonian Grebes drifted back towards Mary Monts and a fifth bird was nearby, this is the peak count so far this winter. Auks were represented by single Guillemots and Razorbills. In the distance, just beyond the old wooden pier to the west, there were four Red-breasted Mergansers.
Back at Needs Ore a female Kingfisher was perched along Kingfisher Ditch and on De L’Orne scrape there were 86 Black-tailed Godwit. This is my highest count on the reserve although I can see from historic records (10-25 years ago) that there have been counts of 500+ in the past.
A female Reed Bunting perched close to Venner Hide and over on Venner Island a Little Egret was showing plumes on both the neck and the wings and so it is at least a 2nd winter bird. Nape plumes if they were present (not visible in this photo) would make it an adult.
The first winter female Scaup was still on Black Water, she was first seen on the 27th October and so has been with us for nearly 13 weeks. The number of Tufted Duck was up again slightly to 23.
Although this is clearly a Greater Scaup the stretched wing allows you to look for one of the key Lesser Scaup features. On Lesser Scaup the bright white bar across the secondaries ends abruptly and is replaced by a grey wing bar on the primaries. On Greater Scaup, as shown here, there is a gradual transition from white to grey.
At the Sailing Club a Grey Plover was standing on Sluice Gate Saltmarsh as I got out of the car. I often stop at the Sailing Club for lunch and it is almost always accompanied by this confiding Robin. I showed the image to Graham who commented that “it is difficult to be sure of its age. Six greater coverts are visible and uniform, but the ones out of view could be different. The alula looks pointed and a tiny bit frayed, which could make it a first-winter. I would leave it un-aged.”
Out on the sea four Eider were flushed by a speedboat, they wheeled around before heading west. The juvenile Peregrine was perched on one of the taller posts towards the end of Gull Island, she was facing away looking over towards Lepe. It’s now seven weeks since I’ve seen either of the adults.