Lade 0830hrs - cold, frosty, sunny, light airs - Sometimes I have to pinch myself as a reminder of how lucky I am living down here on the Marsh. Take today, for example. It`s December, the fag-end of the birding year, nothing much ever happens, its hopeless, isn't it? Well, perhaps not, do read on...
First up the weather was perfect, still and sunny, although the cloud and wind increased from the south-west by midday. On the local patch the usual wildfowl including Red Crested Pochard, Goldeneye and four Bewick`s Swans in a rape field at the back of Lade north, plus Cetti`s Warbler, Goldcrest, Chiffchaff and Long-tailed Tits around the willow swamp.
Crossing the causeway road five Goosanders and two Great White Egrets on New Diggings and in their usual field at Dengemarsh Road, Lydd two Cattle Egrets playing hide-and-seek amongst the straw bales.
Scotney - The expected feral Barnacle, Canada and Greylag Geese on the grass, plus loads of Wigeon, Lapwings and a few Goldies until dispersed by a Peregrine. The new pits behind the farm held 55 Shelducks, 10 Egyptian Geese and four Brents in a field, plus 10 Corn Buntings and 20 Chaffinches around the yard. At the Sussex end two Black-necked Grebes and a Scaup were reported (per BB).
Walland Marsh - First stop Midley drying barns and the surrounding environs where, for once birds were everywhere; chiefly Fieldfares, around a thousand of `em, corvids and Woodpigeons along with a scattering of Redwings, Blackbirds, Song and Mistle Thrushes, and single figures of Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer, finches, tits and Stock Doves, plus Tree Sparrows, Goldfinches, tits, Dunnocks and Robins around the feeders.
We then spent a couple of hours out on Cheyne Court wetlands which held hundreds of Goldies, Lapwings, Teal, Wigeon, Greylags and two White-fronts, plus several Marsh Harriers, Kestrels and Buzzards. Walking around a field of root crops we flushed 100 Skylarks, 20 Mipits and single figures of Snipe, Reed Bunting, Pied Wagtail and Song Thrush. Also, Bearded Tit and three Stonechats nearby.
Back on the lane we bumped into DB and BB and eventually, between us, we located the three Tundra Bean Geese hiding amongst a flock of Mute Swans near the Woolpack reservoir. On the drive back to Midley they alerted us to a male Hen Harrier, which I was jammy enough to see flying low over a turf field near the drying barns, heading out towards Scotney.
So, not a bad little outing, with seven species of geese, plenty of passerines, and the cream on the hot chocolate, a Grey Ghost.
Who said December was duff for birding...? Certainly not me!