Wednesday was the second day running I'd spent on the coast, but this time I was some 30 miles or so south of yesterday’s venue, so not many species overlapped. From the car park some of the class thought they saw a Snipe fly into the Borrow Pits, but it didn’t stay long. Leaving the car park we saw a Greenfinch performing its slow-motion ‘butterfly courtship’ flight, and then we soon encountered a House Martin colony with a couple of House Sparrows also in residence. Not long after going through the gate we found our first Common Blue butterfly, but we didn’t add many more. This area is normally very good butterflies, but apart from a few whites and a pair of Small Heaths fighting and a Speckled Wood in the afternoon, numbers of butterflies were definitely down. Once it had warmed up by the afternoon a large hawker Dragonfly was also patrolling this area. Blackbirds and a Song Thrush were singing, but there were very few Linnets, and a few singing Goldfinches. Near a marshy area we usually see a Sedge Warbler, but this was absent this time, although we did see a whole family of Whitethroats. At the end of the hedgerow Meadow Pipits and Skylarks were singing and flying above a meadow.
Cuckoo (c) 2012 Aileen Urquhart
Small Heath (c) 2012 Aileen Urquhart
Blackbird - with damaged plumage & beak full of worms
There had been changes in the area, as new conservation areas had been excavated since last Autumn. This meant that we had to take a slightly different path from this point. Here, we did have good views of a Sedge Warbler and a Large Skipper, and a more distant sighting of a Reed Bunting. A male Wall Brown basked at the entrance, but a few hundred yards further we stumbled upon a very worn female Wall. 2 Little Egrets flew over as we neared the lagoons. On the first stagnant pool we discovered a pair of Shelduck, a Redshank and 3 more Little Egrets. Then we saw our first hunting Little Tern, while 5 Sandwich Terns headed out to sea.
Wall Brown (male)
Wall Brown (worn female)
Ringed Plover (Chick) - had the awww factor
Ringed Plover - adult in flight
Ringed Plover seeing off a Dunlin
Right next to the hide in the morning was a Curlew, while in the afternoon this had been replaced by a Little Egret. From the hide we saw a couple of Ringed Plovers and 3 tiny chicks, and a Little Tern also seemed to be on eggs. A distant Cuckoo we seen heading north being mobbed by small birds before it left them trailing in its wake. Meanwhile on the lagoon a Dunlin in breeding fettle flew in, but it was soon seen off by one of the Ringed Plovers. On the return journey a Cuckoo (possibly female) was flushed from the hedgerow, she flew over the fields, but then started to return before perching on the top of a hedge in full view. We even had time to set up the telescope for everyone to get a decent view. Exclamations ranged from “Golly gosh”, through “Crikey”, to “it was good, that”, but Brian’s “brilliant” provided the final consensus. Suddenly the temperature rose to unimaginable heights and the humidity was an amazing contrast to recent weather. The afternoon started with these temperatures, but by the end a cool easterly wind had started to hit us from the sea.
Little Egret under attack by Ringed Plover
Cuckoo (c) 2012 Aileen Urquhart
Mute Swan Cygnets (above) - again provided an aww factor
The morning group shared cars to the hide on the edge of the Nature Reserve. There wasn’t a great deal to see, although the 5 cygnets in front of the hide elicited some appreciative, but embarrassing cooing! Also seen here were a pair of Pied Wagtails, some moulting Mallards, and a few Linnets & meadow Pipits came down for a drink. In the bushes opposite we observed a family of very colourful Greenfiches and the odd Whitethroat were also spotted.
Pied Wagtail (female) with Mayfly?
Three of the morning group went on to Sammy's Point where they saw at least 4 different Cuckoos. However, the afternoon also scored as the morning female had returned to her position in the hedgerows she had patrolled in the morning. They were all able to enjoy a long look at her as she flew north over an Oilseed Rape field.
Cuckoo (c) 2012 Tony Robinson