Thursday, 6 September 2012

Tales From the Riverbank

The first Thursday of the new term saw us visiting a estuary location at full tide. Unfortunately the tide was so high in the morning there was very little exposed mud available for waders. There were a few Pied Wagtails here instead. There a few Mallards about, some Black-headed Gulls and a few Teal, but little else. We walked along the river bank for the majority of the time. It started off very quietly with hardly a bird to be seen. At this time of year we used to encounter Stonechats along here, but they've been absent since the recent spate of severe winters. However, just as the industrial buildings were coming to an end, we saw a very smart Wheatear on the flood barrier. This kept us coming for the next 1/4 of a mile as it flew along ahead of us. The sunlight was against us for really excellent views, but these were the best views of this species we've managed for quite some time.


Marsh Harrier [with Carrion Crows]

We carried on to see charms of Goldfinches on the thistles and other seed-bearing plants. There were also a smattering of Linnets. Some of these were males as they were still singing, but they had moulted so there was no trace of their bright spring colours.
 Grey Pates
 Small Tortoiseshell

Near the marsh was a flock of more an 100 Lapwings accompanied by 3 Starlings, and in the corner of the field were six strange, grey hunched figures. These turned out to be Herons. One flew off west & another east, but most of them stood their ground. Not too far away were 4 smaller shapes, and as we neared them their curved bills could be glimpsed - Curlews.

Over the marsh itself a cream-crown Marsh Harrier was seen flying towards us with 4 crows in hot pursuit. It eventually came to rest in the tall reeds in the marsh, but only after disturbing the few Gadwall on the water. Phil G saw the tail of a small mammal disappearing in the grass, which on investigation turned out to be a young Wood Mouse. We left it in its nursery. A few geese flying over we're not identified, but from the poor view I got I don't think they were Pink-footed Geese, which have just started to return to this part of the world.

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