Saturday 25 July 2020

Saturday 25th July

Humid with frequent light rain showers all morning on a light breeze from the southern quarter offered promising conditions. An early morning seawatch produced 45 Gannet, a raft of nine Common Scoter, three Manx Shearwater and two Great Skua in about an hour.  The woods and dune bushes were lively with roaming mixed feeding flocks and a few scattered migrants with selected totals of c.60 Linnet, 29 Goldfinch, 19 Long-tailed Tit, c.20 Greenfinch, 18 Blackcap, 12 Stonechat (many this year's fledged birds); ten Blue Tit, nine Chiffchaff, nine Cirl Bunting, five Willow Warbler, one of which landed briefly atop a post on the wader island (!).  Also four Whitethroat, two Great Tit, two Bullfinch, a Garden Warbler, a juv Green Woodpecker and one Great Spotted Woodpecker.  

In addition to the two resident birds, a flock of six Raven flew southwest otherwise, just a single Swift and a few Swallow overhead.  The pair of Mute Swan with two cygnets and two Little Grebe remained on the Main Pond. 

The late morning tide pushed in 414 Oystercatcher, c.300 Curlew, 146 Dunlin, 117 Redshank and 89 Sanderling, the largest count in July since 2011 and two of these were colour-ringed, both new schemes (for this species) to be recorded here, one from Spain and the other from Orkney. Despite missing one of its colour-combination rings, it was also missing a foot, and about this distinctive individual were forthcoming. It was ringed 29th Apr 2018, where it remained a few days, then was seen near Redcar, Cleveland in Aug 2018 then in Brittany, France a few days later, and that's some of this bird's eventful history.

The Spanish ringed with four colour-rings on one leg (left) and the Orkney ringed Sanderling (lime-green flag plus various colour-rings) - Lee Collins

Other counts, 33 Whimbrel, 28 Ringed Plover, nine Bar-tailed Godwit, nine Turnstone, eight Great Black-backed Gull, seven Greenshank and three Common Sandpiper

The Bight and 'woodhenge', located in front of the hide (which still remains unrepaired and closed), are the best places to view terns up close during the mid- to high-tide period as they rest between bouts of fishing.  Approximately 120 Sandwich Tern (47 juvs) and 11 Common Tern (7 juvs) were present.  

A Sandwich Tern ringed as a pullus in June 1993 at Lady's Island, Co. Wexford, making it 27 years old and thus one of the oldest ever recorded.  

One of the adult Common Tern has a completely bright orangey-red bill with no dark tip.  This variant is described as "occasional" (BWP) and "exceptional" (Olsen & Larsson, 1995).  The recent variety of small terns has attracted visitors and without practice can present an identification challenge, particularly this bird, which could be mistaken for an Arctic Tern.  However, on closer inspection the bill was not the deep coral-red of Arctic Tern; also the legs were too long, which is a diagnostic feature when perched at close range on a post, and various other features relating to its build, GISS, primary colouration and moult. 

Common Tern with all orangy-red bill and no black tip - Lee Collins

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