The Safari had a day off today and so we went twitching for a local specialty. We arrived at the marsh well early with the intention of watching the tide up. Despite the early hour there was already a significant heat haze making anything over half way across the marsh a bit wibbly-wobbly and anything across the river virtually unidentifiable.
It was on our first scan that we found our first Avocets of the year (125). The soundtrack to our visit to the Lesser Spotted woodpecker site was Little Grebes trilling today's sound track was the lovely exaltations of the Skylarks and the chewitting of the tumbling Green Plovers, the superb soundtrack to our youth many years ago.
If the was a sound theme there was a colour theme too, black n white! The Shelducks are black n white (at a distance) the Avocets are black n white, the Little Egrets are white, the Whooper Swans were white, the Mute Swans were white, in the river the Cormorants were black and we won't mention the wibbly-wobbly gulls.
The warm sun brought out plenty of butterflies, mostly Small Tortoiseshells and several Peacocks, big Bumble Bees buzzed around the Dandelions too.
A Merlin (126) flashed past inches above the grass and landed on a large piece of driftwood away across the marsh.
We went back to our start point and saw that a small crowd was gathering for the main event. The extra pairs of eyes and ears soon found a Raven and we spotted a second soaring way way above us in the azure blue.
Loads of Little Egrets were scattered across the marsh, at one point we had seven in the scope at one time! It's not that long ago we really did twitch these, no sign of the Great White Egret today which was a bit of a dip although it does tend to favour the south side of the river.
A Peregrine was picked up as the tide rose but on the whole it was a bit of quiet morning. A Buzzard and two wibbly-wobbly blobs over the far bank could have been this species of Marsh Harriers, probably the former.
The tide rose slowly flushing the Redshanks and Curlews but only three Snipe and no Jack Snipe. A Reed Bunting called from the hedge beside us but really there were few small birds about, particularly pipits. The target species were the summer plumaged Water Pipits two of which were seen yesterday. Sadly no luck today, the tide wasn't high enough by just a couple of inches and there was enough just about uncovered patches for them to hide in right across the marsh so they weren't pushed up to the sea wall...a bit of a westerly breeze was all it needed but it was all very calm today.
With the tide at its peak and no sign of the target the crowd drifted away and we headed for the nature reserve.
Cetti's Warblers were everywhere! We had six and MJ had had another so at least seven singing males on site this arvo.
By now the sun was quiet summery and the bees and butterflies were out in force. Several of the Peacocks were nectaring on the Pussy Willow flowers.
We also saw our first Comma of the nature reserve for this season.
The gulls went up in a huge commotion bet we didn't find any raptors going over. Later a slightly less loud commotion gave us a soaring Sparrowhawk.
Walking round to the Feeding Station we heard a Blackcap (MMLNR #68) burst into song and then found him flitting through the edge of the scrub.
In the tame wildflower meadow the Snakeshead Fritillaries are coming into flower, looks like there'll be over 100 heads in total whcih is good. The Cowslips are looking good too and there will be a fine show of Agrimony later in the season.
So there you have it a really good day off, OK so we didn't see the target species but we did get to chat to a few old friends we don't see so often these days and the sun shone all day long - all good stuff!
Where to next? Back to Patch 2 where there WILL be a Wheatear - won't there?
In the meantime let us know what wasn't where it should have been in your outback.