Lade - cold and sunny, e 4 - A bright morning was tempered somewhat by a nippy wind coming in off the sea. The WeBS count on the lakes was predictably low as the majority of ducks and Coots had returned to their breeding grounds. Two Marsh Harriers hunted the rough ground behind the `mirrors`, plus 2 Stonechats in the scrub. There was a noticeable influx of Chaffinches with at least 20 around the site and more drifting over eastwards. The return walk along the beach was largely fruitless due to the low tide and an abundance of kite surfers and land yachts, although at the Lade end 12 Ringed Plovers were noted.
Walland Marsh - These past couple or three days I`ve been moping around with a touch of highly debilitating man-flu, so very nearly declined to join CP for the final harrier count of the winter, what with a rasping north-easterly sweeping the flatlands and all. However, thankfully I rallied and what a memorable afternoon it turned out to be.
The walk out to the roost site delivered 2 Buzzards, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, several Marsh Harriers and a sprinkling of winter thrushes, Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Lapwings and Golden Plovers, plus 15 Bewick`s Swans flying towards Fairfield. A decent enough start then.
From the roost site over the coming 90 minutes we were treated to a raptor fest with Marsh Harriers continually circling over the reedbed, where eventually 22 birds settled in for the night, our highest count of the winter. While all this was happening 2 Barn Owls hunted along the main bund, a Merlin zipped through, another Buzzard put in an appearance and, the icing on cake, a stunning grey ghost Hen Harrier headed to roost on the ranges. Two Great Whites and a Little Egret also flew out to roost, presumably destined for the ARC pit on the coast. A Green Sandpiper, several Snipe, Tree Sparrow, Reed Bunting, Cetti`s Warbler and Water Rail were also noted.
And then, just as we were packing up, Chris spotted a Wild Boar on the edge of the reedbed which we watched for a brief minute before it retreated back into cover. A sandy coloured animal, it looked straight at us with its ears twitching and as the wind was blowing its way we reckoned it probably detected our scent. Having seen plenty of boar tracks and diggings before, this is the first time either of us have seen this impressive animal on the Marsh.
On the way home Little Owl, Fox and Hare were noted. A memorable afternoon indeed.