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Cracking Marshside tide!

Posted by on February 1, 2014 2:29 PM | 

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I knew it was going to be good on the high tide today when just about the first bird I saw as I started walking north from the Sandplant was a Short Eared Owl, flapping about in that bewildered way, looking for dry land as the rising waters quickly covered the entire outer marsh.
Another two Short Eared Owls were trying to avoid the attention of mobbing gulls over the remaining vegetation opposite the old wildfowler's car park, and keen-eyed blog readers may just be able to make one out in this blurry shot!

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(it's the sixth flying blurry blob from the left, honest!)

The water was right under the road long before the height of the tide and it flushed many Common Snipe, and two superb Jack Snipe, which flew right past me before pitching down in the last bit of unsubmerged vegetation just north of the Sandplant - great to see them away from Weld Road.
Obviously they'll be out on the marsh throughout winter, but seeing one of these skulky little critters is usually a different matter.

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Met Dave Fletcher who'd had Jacks at Weld Road earlier, pushed out by the tide, and at least three Short Eared Owls on Crossens Outer.
After a quick chat I got down the bank and settled in to see what the tide would push up, just as the rain started to come in.
Voles (Bank/Short Tailed?) were swimming about trying to avoid being eaten and soon the floating debris began to fill up with Mipits, Skylarks and at least five Rock Pipits.

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Particularly enjoyed watching the Rock Pipits even though everything was soaked in a predictably heavy shower or two.
Usually they're just a calling silhouette in the air above me on the marsh, so it was good to 'scope 'em on the deck for protracted periods of time...just how many winter at Marshside I wonder?
The air was filled with birds - waders (Curlew, Redshank, Dunlin, Lapwing etc), wildfowl, egrets, gulls, even the "little white goose" had a go at a flypast!

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In all the excitement of a spring tide, it's easy to forget what a pain they are for many of the birds and voles - all that displacement, feeding grounds submerged, roosts disturbed etc.
Unless you're one of the gulls patrolling the edges picking off the exhausted or unwary of course, in which case it's a mega-picnic.
And, for those of us lucky enough to be able to witness it, it's a birding bonanza.
Eyes to the skies everyone, eyes to the skies...

2 Comments

Family commitments prevented me getting out today; sounds like I really missed out, but on the subject of the "little white goose", I was in the Sandgrounders the other day, photographing the self same bird which was very close to the hide. When I left and crossed the road to the sand plant, I scanned the next pool north on the seaward side, then got the scope out to look at what I thought was a Little Egret. But no, it was a white goose. I dismissed it as one of the Greylag mutations that hang around Marshside, but then it obligingly stood and stretched its wings, revealing solidly black wingtips. Now, it COULD have been the "LWG", decamped over the road, but it would have had to be bloody quick. I walked along towards the pool, but hadn't gone far when it took off and flew low out towards the estuary. After visiting the Long-tailed Duck and Nel's, I went back to Sandgrounders, where a "Snow Goose" had been reported. Natural scepticism means I assumed this was a mis-id of the LWG, but does anyone know better? Have there really been two "white geese" around Marshside?

Ah, the wonderful world of the "Little White Goose" - it was flying south past Crossens Outer today, before getting down to some seriously funky Mallard fraternising as usual...

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