|Long-tailed Tit - Dave Jewell|
Small parties of hirundines passed through early on, at least 50 Swallow and 35 House Martin, also three Swift, a Yellow Wagtail and a Little Ringed Plover flew southwest. As often happens in autumn, hirundines' sense of direction baffles with earnest movement early on heading northeast then late morning a trickle of Swallow headed southwest. A flock of six Common Tern flew in off and north up the estuary.
Just before the heat haze contrived to confound counts of waterbirds roosting on the Railway Saltmarsh, which from the hide area is a challenge at 850 metres away (or just over a half mile away), counts over there plus in and around The Bight included 483 Oystercatcher, 376 Curlew, 192 Redshank, 135 Black-headed Gull, 61 Ringed Plover, 53 Dunlin, 48 Canada Goose, 34 Whimbrel, 23 Sandwich Tern, 20 Sanderling, 18 Mute Swan, 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, 11 Cormorant, ten Great Black-backed Gull, seven Little Egret, six Mediterranean Gull (2 juv, 1 fs, 6 adult), five Common Gull, three Lesser Black-backed Gull, two Turnstone and a Common Sandpiper.
August is usually the peak month of passage for Ringed Plover and counts so far have been rather but since this species presents a distinctly peaked pattern to its occurrence here, it is too early to comment yet on its performance this autumn; its average peak date (1980-2019) is 20th August. A different story is emerging for Sandwich Tern, which has an average peak date two weeks earlier, on 6th August, and the max count so far this year is only 123 (on 26th July), less than half of expected numbers, so a late flourish is hoped for.
Also today, two Wheatear around The Bight. Although passage birds are featured, it is still the bird breeding season with Reed Warbler juveniles still being fed and the 'Dune Pond pair' of Stonechat have just fledged two chicks (their third brood and the second to be successful), serving as a reminder for all visitors and site managers to be careful.
Wildlife news: temperatures rose sharply late morning to a sweltering 29°C, which encouraged invertebrates to become very active and butterflies seen included four Clouded Yellow, singles of Peacock, Red Admiral, Painted Lady and Brimstone, a scarce species here. Two or three Emperor Dragonfly, Migrant Hawker and Common Darter ranged over ponds and dunes.