The Safari met up with NS at the marshes as planned, along with A.N Other. We had arrived in plenty of time the river was still well down in its channel and a long way off.
The first birds to find their into the notebook were five Little Egrets (108) a couple more were seen as the morning progressed. Whilst we scanned the in coming tide a few Long Tailed Tits worked there way through the scrubby Hawthorns on the bank to the side of us. Behind us we heard our first singing Chaffinches of the year and a Song thrush was heard too. A little later a Skylark was flushed off the marsh on to the fields and began to sing despite the icy cold strengthening wind.
Several parties of whooper swans came down the river, we counted a total of 29 along with a skein of 17 Pink Footed Geese. Already on the marsh were several Grey Lag Geese and a flock of Canada Geese.
A Stock Dove landed just down in front of us and another flew over. Then the third member of out 'team' called Merlin (109), it was a little distant at first but then swooped through the bushes very close to us - great stuff. N saw a large flock of something away over the river on the South-side - about 1000 Lapwings and under them, and perhaps the reason they were up, two Marsh Harriers (110) were just discernable.
On our side of the river a flock of about 50 Golden Plovers flew by while we were waiting for one of the stars of the show, again our third member was the first to pick one up flying out over the water flushed by the rising tide...Short Eared Owl (111) - a lifer for N - Excellent! We found another sitting high and dry on a rapidly disappearing patch of slightly higher vegetation.
Once the water had reached the bottom of the bank it was Pipit time back near the car park. Straight away we were put on to a bird on a fence post, a cracking Water Pipit (112) a Lifer for the Safari and not for want of trying over the years. There were several Rock Pipits and plenty of Reed Buntings there too and in the end we got another Water Pipit and perhaps a third. A third Short Eared Owl was seen but the others who had been watching from here all the time had had five.
as we were deciding to leave and head off somewhere else a fine pair of Grey Partridges (113) lifted off the last of the rapidly disappearing marsh and flew right in front of us - what a shame these little beauties are getting so rare.
N went off home to thaw out while we went to the nature reserve for more cold-punishment where we saw our first Great Crested Grebe (66) at the site. In the feeding station two Bramblings showed really well but unfortunately the light was far too poor for any pics.
We met up with the Ranger and at the far end spotted a potential Yellow Legged Gull bathing with a couple of Herring Gulls about half way down the mere but on reaching the best hide from which to see it we discovered it had gone - dohhh.
By now hypothermia was setting in even though we were wearing two pairs of socks one of which were supposedly 'the warmest socks ever invented'...time to get back to Base Camp after a successfully few hours birding.
Where to next? Back to the patches and hoping for some good stuff.
in the meantime let us know what came in on the tide in your outback.
Sorry but lack of light and PC problems meant no pics for you today.