Sometimes you can forgive the marsh for another cold, Wheatear-free March morning, and today was one of those times.
Things started off well enough with the ringtail Hen Harrier patrolling the edge of the marsh from the Sandplant – long range record shots, but I think it is a young male, what does anyone else think?
It certainly seems to have had a fairly set schedule over the winter, usually winging past here mid-late morning most days, although this is the first time I’ve caught up with it.
Sandgrounders was infested with staff from Natural England as Tony Baker was showing them around on a marine-type training day, and they’d picked up a Med Gull amongst the BHGs. I slipped out to have a quieter look at it on the sandplant lagoon, where there were still two Pochard drakes.
The floating shapes of all three comatose Scaup (two males, one female) were on the Junction Pool amongst the Tufties, and while wildfowl numbers have obviously fallen away, the regular waders were about in force.
More parties of Mipits about today, but no other obvious signs of movement.
Mad Dog Bannon and Ron Jackson turned up, and we headed up to Crossens Outer for pipit pain.
Two Ravens were out on the cow carcass before the pipitry began.
Actually things went swimmingly – I picked up the full adult Water Pipit found by Pete Kinsella and Mark Nightingale yesterday, just east of the concrete water trough, and had great, if brief views, before it sped back out of sight down the banks of the Crossens Channel.
Lovely blue grey wash to the nape and unstreaked mantle, with pale flushed chest and underpants – superb.
The second, moultier bird that Pete and Mark found yesterday was still there and incredibly sat around just long enough for me to fire off a couple of long range record shots (top of this entry and below):
This one pumped its long tail (like a wagtail) frequently and moved with a strange almost Jack Snipe like bobbing motion as it fed.
The Water Pipits called once or twice, but this was really hard to pick up against the roar of the traffic.
If you’re trying for these birds (and they are difficult), they are extremely flighty – best bet is to use the cover of the taller trees along the bank and look ahead of you as they seem to like feeding close to the bank – although the summer bird was out in the open today, albeit briefly.
Water Pipits are always worth the effort.
There were about 30-40 Mipits here today too, but if you walk up and down along the pavement you’ll just flush the lot.
Best to find a spot on the bank, hunker down and hope the pipits drop in in front of you.