Coordinator/leader: Alan Hughes
Reporter: David Laurie
Bird Recorder: David Gibbons
Eight of us gathered in the car park at 8:30 for a visit to one of the RSPB's premier coastal sites. It was an overcast day, chilly at the start and with rain forecast, but as ever this excellent reserve did not disappoint.
Firstly, we welcomed Jerry Bart. He has been a member for two years but thanks to Covid- 19 this was his first trip out with the club.
Having made introductions, we set off along the Wash Trail towards the sea bank, stopping to observe the huge number of birds on the pools to the left of the path. There were masses of Black-tailed Godwits, ducks in profusion and the first of many Snipe. There were Green and Common Sandpipers, Little Egrets and incoming flight of five Spoonbills.
A Black Stork had been in the vicinity for a few days and was seen by early arrivers at the car park before disappearing into one of the grassland ditches. It now reappeared close to a Merlin sitting on a fence post, providing an unusual joint image in the telescope.
Moving closer to the sea bank a pool by the path gave us an excellent close view of Little Stint and Dunlin, the size difference clear. We also found the first of many Yellow Wagtails.
These summer visitors are increasingly scarce and it was a pleasure to see such a large gathering. On the sea bank we turned right to look for a Pacific Golden Plover. It was easily found as it has, remarkably, been in the same few square yards of the vast saltmarsh for a few days. A Little Ringed Plover was on the landward side while out on the saltmarsh was a very distant Short-eared Owl.
Returning to the rest of the Wash Trail the pools added Greenshank, Redshank, Spotted Redshank and Whimbrel to our waders while the saltmarsh side revealed a Wheatear. A welcome increase in temperature brought out some butterflies including a Small Heath and a superb male Common Blue. In the distance we saw the Black Stork in flight, as remarkably graceful in the air as its White counterpart.
The hides gave us views of Little and Great Crested Grebes, Pochard and plenty of ducks, though the latter never look their smartest at this time of year.
Back at the Visitor Centre we took a break for lunch and a chat about what to do next. Four of us had to leave at this point but the remainder decided to explore the Grassland Trail. Light rain had started (thankfully the predicted heavy rain decided to fall elsewhere) and passerines were scarce, though we were able to add Chiffchaff and Long-tailed Tit to our list as well as Wigeon and Pintail from the lake.
Coming back along the sea bank the Pacific Golden Plover was still in the same spot, having moved only a few feet since morning. At the Visitor Centre the party shrank to three for the last loop, the Reedbed Trail. There were no more birds of note, but a spell of warmth drew a Ruddy Darter onto the path.
The reserve has a new art installation comprised of three retired marker buoys painted with images of local wildlife and on the Reedbed Trail we passed a street artist adding finishing touches with a spray can.
To round off the day we paused at the Reedbed Hide for a final look at the pools. We didn't find the reported Grey Plovers but more Spoonbills had arrived, making at least 30 on site.
A big thank you to Alan Hughes for organizing and leading this highly enjoyable excursion and to David Gibbons for the sightings lists. In all we saw 71 species of bird and 7 species of butterfly.
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Pacific Golden Plover
Little Ringed Plover
Great Crested Grebe
Total: 71 species
Please feel free to read through our reports from our monthly outdoor meetings.