Lade - 1000hrs - cool, sunny, nw 4 - After the deluge and dullness of yesterday it was good to see the sunshine today, even if it was tempered by a keen north-westerly. Anyhow, today was the monthly WeBS count and most of the wildfowl were conveniently huddled beside the willows on south lake in the lee of the wind. Top count went to 403 Coots with all the usual numbers of diving ducks, plus 4 Shelducks. Several Marsh Harriers were on the hunt behind the `mirrors` along with 2 Kestrels and a Common Buzzard; no doubt the raptors were hungry after sitting out the rain yesterday.
Burrowes - On the lake 2 Great White Egrets and a Black-necked Grebe was about it amongst all the usual wildfowl and gulls. Two Fieldfares flew over and at least 3 Marsh Harriers were hunting over the Oppen Pits.
Harrier Count - Accompanied Marshman in his native habitat out on the flatlands to the usual watch point for the monthly harrier count this afternoon in perfect weather, once the wind had slackened off; and what a stunning sunset as well. There were plenty of Marsh Harriers on the wing but only 12 came to roost, mostly this years juveniles. However, several hundred Golden Plovers and Lapwings were regularly flushed off the flood by a pair of Peregrines that put on a superb show of aerial acrobatics. To complete the raptor fest we also noted 2 Common Buzzards, 2 Kestrels and singles of Merlin and Sparrowhawk. Several Snipe were seen or heard, plus a Ruff amongst the plovers as well as both Little and Great White Egrets. Water Rails were calling constantly along with occasional Bearded Tit and Cetti`s Warbler.
As if that wasn't enough we also had distant views of a Short-eared Owl (courtesy of PB) and stunning views of a Barn Owl which diverted around us, only a few yards away, as it hunted along the bund like a giant moth. After the lousy weather of late the owls must`ve prospered in the fine weather conditions.
In summary a great couple of hours out on the Marsh - and what is it about owls, as it doesn't matter how many years of birding you`ve got under your belt they are always a delight to watch.