Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Sub-zero birding

Lade - very cold, sunny, E 6 - With a wind speed of Force 6/7 and -2 C during the morning the wind chill factor was fierce and it was not a day to be out in the open for too long. First thing we worked the local patch where the Long-tailed Duck showed briefly on the far side of south lake before retreating into the reedbed, while five Goldeneyes out on the lake made light of the Siberian weather conditions. A small flock of Reed Buntings foraging along the main track, the males in spanking  nuptial plumage, hinted at the coming spring, in contrast to several Fieldfares fleeing in off the sea.
Greatstone - News came through from OL concerning a mixed passerine flock he`d just found in stubble fields to the south of the sewage works complete with a couple of Lapland Buntings. We were soon on site and checking through around 50 odd Skylarks, Mipits and a couple of Reed Buntings. Eventually, a Lap Bunting broke cover, called and showed in flight before plunging back into cover. At least 100 Golden Plovers were also feeding amongst the stubble.
Lade Bay - We checked the bay for waders on a falling tide from two locations, seeking shelter best we could from the blasting wind, and eventually located eight species, and just as were leaving a 1st winter Little Gull flew along the beach heading south, the final bird of the Birdwatching Break.

                                Frozen sea ice, Lade bay

  Considering the weather conditions we somehow managed to locate 90 species over the three days including Hawfinch, Slavonian Grebe, Smew, Great White Egret, Long-tailed Duck, Kingfisher, Firecrest, Little and Glaucous Gulls and Lapland Bunting, so a decent collection of wintering birds.
  As I said to our guests, Clare and Peter, this was without doubt the coldest bird tour I`ve done since starting Plovers almost 13 years ago. As Peter said, "we birded through the Beast from the East and survived"!  

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