Sunday, 15 March 2015

Wintry blast

Lade - Saturday - cold, dry, sunny, e5. Sunday - cold, cloudy, drizzly, ne 4 - With a cold easterly airflow setting in it was a reminder that winter hasn't let go its steely grip just yet; unfortunately, if the past few springs are anything to go by we could be in for a sustained period of this weather system. However, at least its largely dry and yesterday we had the first Wheatear on the local patch, bobbing up and down on the desert shingle ridges, plus a few Linnets and a Stonechat today. On north pit another first for the season was a cracking adult Mediterranean Gull amongst a small flock of Black-heads on north lake. Other bits and bobs around the pits included several Marsh Harriers, Sparrowhawk, Green Woodpecker, plus singing Reed Bunting and Chiffchaff.
On the main track beside south lake another entrance hole to a large badger sett had appeared overnight with more dung pits scattered amongst the gorse scrub. The badger population down here is enormous and at this time of year there is much activity around setts as bedding is changed and cubbing starts.

                                Badger sett, Lade

                                Guillemot, Lade - one of three tideline corpses

Today we did a full circuit of the patch spending a fair bit of time on the beach, although being as we were up late this morning (too much ale and chatting into the early hours with friends last night, but I was victorious at shove ha`penny!) the tide had receded a little too far, so most of the waders were distant. However, we still managed to notch up seven species including 55 Barwits and 40 Knots.
Sanderlings were the most numerous with a minimum of 400 across the bay, and some were nice and close to the shoreline. Sanderlings are one of my favourite waders and their nervous energy is a delight to watch as they race along the tideline picking off marine invertebrates. Barney too is fascinated by them and sits and watches their every move; often they pass within a few yards of us, particularly when we`re hunkered down on the beach. 
On a sadder note three dead Guillemots were noted between the Tavern and Lade boardwalk, probably drowned in fishing nets judging from the tangled masses that were washed up alongside the corpses.

                      Sanderlings, Lade

This afternoon we spent a couple of hours over the gravel pits to the south. It was largely quiet with a single Wheatear the only migrant, plus several each of Skylark, Mipit and Pied Wagtail. A couple of hundred Black-headed Gulls and one Med were on the islands and Barney flushed two Snipe from the grassy margins.

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