Sunday 13 December 2015

Oystercatchers and Coots

Lade - mild, cloudy, occasional drizzle, sw 2 - We spent the weekend birding on the hoof, so nice and local with the car anchored firmly on the driveway. Yesterday I concentrated on the bay counting waders on a rising tide. It can be a bit of a lottery here depending upon disturbance as well as the height of the tide, but I did manage to get a pretty accurate count of Oystercatchers. They were all bunched together at Greatstone, and as the tide ran in flew towards me, and their roost site at Kerton Road pits, in dribs and drabs allowing 920 to be logged. All ten species of waders were eventually tracked down, but only a handful each of Ringed and Grey Plovers. Along the way 5 Med Gulls and 2 Shelducks were also noted.

                                Oystercatchers, Lade bay
This morning it was WeBS count on the pits and it took ages to complete due to the light airs scattering wildfowl all over the place. Eventually, after a recount due to Marsh Harrier attacks, I came up with 1,620 Coots, a new site record, and 540 Gadwalls, plus lesser numbers of Wigeon, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard and the like.
  Whilst on the subject of harriers I watched an old female working the southern end of south lake when she jinked in a corner reedbed and disappeared completely. A careful walk back towards the action revealed the bird had made a kill and was tucking in with gusto. Shortly afterwards feathers floated out across the lake and after 15 minutes she flew off revealing her breakfast to have been a Water Rail, of which there are a plentiful supply hereabouts.
  Around the willow swamp a number of Long-tailed Tits, Goldcrests, Cetti`s Warblers and Chiffchaff noted, while an adult Caspian Gull was amongst a roost of 500 gulls on north lake. Elsewhere around the site, a Great White Egret, Kingfisher, Sparrowhawk, 10 Skylarks, 5 Goldfinches, 5 Mipits and a brown Merlin over the desert.

                                Coots, and more Coots, Lade


  1. I think you must have all our Coots. We've just done a WEBS count on the Swale NNR and not one Coot.

  2. I`ve not seen the like of these Coot numbers here before Derek. I think it is simply the food supply, the Canadian pond weed, which has a 5 year cyclical peak, is so abundant and thick that Lapwings land on it thinking the bulky rafts are islands! When you pick the weed up its crammed with small crustaceans and the like, so I guess it is high in nutrients. And the Marsh Harrier activity has ramped up accordingly, which certainly adds to the entertainment value, if a bit grizzly at times