Sunday 6 December 2020

Sunday 6th December

The strange meteorological event of a blocking cyclone weakened to allow patchy frost and thin ice overnight that soon melted to give rise to a lovely sunny and calm day. At dawn, before the sun rose above low clouds to dazzle searches out to sea, there was 31 Great Crested Grebe, six Gannet, six Guillemot, two Razorbill, two Red-throated Diver, one Common Scoter, one Kittiwake and a distant Grey Heron flew southwest.

Birding the woods was timed to coincide with the first warmer rays of sunshine and in near perfect conditions produced about a dozen Long-tailed Tit, nine Blue Tit, eight Siskin, four Goldcrest, two Great Tit, presumably the usual two Firecrest in their favourite spots, two each also of Great Spotted Woodpecker, Bullfinch and Chaffinch, a Coal Tit on the feeders and a ♀ Pheasant. The majority of these birds and the mixed selection of nine chiffchaffs ssp. on site were considered to be long-stayers. The Siberian Chiffchaff briefly showed well and called from the same tamarisk it was originally found in on 22nd November, assuming it's the same bird, which is also when a 'fulvescens' or 'riphaeus'-type chiffchaff appeared.  Today this (?) bird was in bushes next to the entrance kissing-gate; again it didn't call.

More generally around site on scattered bushes and in open habitats were seven Stonechat, six Cirl Bunting, six Skylark on Warren Point where also there was a Song Thrush. Small numbers of Goldfinch, Greenfinch and single-figures of Linnet and Meadow Pipit were also noted.

Main Pond supported five Water Rail, four Moorhen, a pair of trilling Little Grebe, and the ♂ domestic Mallard thing that repeatedly bobbed it head to display interest in the resident ♀ Mallard

No birds of prey and only three single passerines noted overhead in the clear skies, another Skylark, a Mistle Thrush and the highlight, a Yellowhammer calling as it flew NE through the middle of the site; the third record of the year.

Best intentions to time birding of each habitats during its anticipated peak activity were thrown out of sync as counts started on waterbirds and sighting of a 'peep'-like calidris sp., in The Bight.  This was distinguishable in flight with Dunlin by its shorter wings and buzzier flight action. Reflections of observers was this resembled but probably was not another 2009 nightmare (link), and instead the bird was perhaps an unseasonal arctica Dunlin or an incredibly small schinzii Dunlin; not a Little Stint. Worth looking out for.  

Representative counts managed were 216 Wigeon, 204 Teal, 128 Knot, 120 Redshank, 106 Shelduck, 60+ Dark-bellied Brent Goose plus two Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 53 Turnstone, 50 Black-tailed Godwit, 33 Black-headed Gull, 32 Ringed Plover, 20+ Cormorant, 13 Shag (including four offshore), 11 Common Snipe, six Curlew, five Red-breasted Merganser, four Greenshank, just three Common Gull, just two Great Black-backed Gull, two more Shoveler in The Bight, two (presumed) captive bred Mallard, two more Grey Heron, two Little Egret, one Mute Swan, another Great crested Grebe, the ♂ Eider and 'Herbert' the Slavonian Grebe

As the dead glasswort ssp became exposed on the ebbing tide in The Bight, a Rock Pipit and a Water Pipit dropped in, which obligingly perching up and was  remarked on as a particularly odd looking individual, probably a first-winter, which then called to assist its identity. 

first-winter(?) Water Pipit - David Flack
A mile or so outside of the site, in a cattle-grazed field on Easter Hill, Cockwood, were at least nine Cattle Egret.

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