The most interesting sighting today was that of a Merlin that obliged us by sitting on a fence giving us a long and good view of it. Occasionally it dropped to the ground and returned to a slightly different spot and then eventually flew low over the ground and was gone. Fortunately two members had brought their telescopes so many of us saw it clearly.
It was a glorious day warm enough for shorts! 12 members met in the car park and as the tide was rising and would soon be covering the mud, we made our way down to the riverbank in the hope of seeing waders. There was nothing remarkable there but from the seawall we could see over the fields where cattle grazed and where we hoped we might see Cattle Egrets, two of which had been sighted recently; we weren’t so lucky. The sight of Swans flying upriver brought us all to a standstill as we watched them fly past. Two men with expensive cameras and large lenses informed us that they had photographed Bitterns a day or so ago and one of the men was pleased with his picture of a flying Kestrel catching a Dragonfly – we saw plenty of Kestrels and Dragonflies but no Bitterns. The one wader we were delighted to see was the Golden Plover and a group of them stood on and by raised mounds close to the water line. Amongst the sightings on the farmland were Meadow Pipits, a flock of Canada and Barnacle Geese and amongst them some hybrids of the two.
The glowing sun brought out the red of an attractive plant that grew in the dry margins of a dyke. A member identified it as Common Glasswort and later, when a specimen was found on the seawall another member armed with his mobile ‘phone and an App for identifying plants, confirmed this. Apparently the higher marsh areas, which are inundated less frequently than the flooded lower parts, are the home for Glassworts, which, at this time of year, take on their autumnal colours of pinks and red.
Another good identification was that of the Petticoat Mottlegill (panaeolus sphinctrinus), a fungus that is a late coloniser of dung in farm fields. Having spent so long viewing the Merlin the group fragmented so we passed each other coming and going from the hides, reporting what we had each seen as we passed.
The water level in what should be the flooded parts of the reserve is low, too low, and we were told the pump used to pump water into the area has not been turned on. However at the eastern end of the reserve there were pools of water and we saw a variety of ducks, waders and a close-up view of an obliging Stonechat. In the distant fields a large flock of Stock Doves were foraging for food, most likely seeds, roots, shoots and leaves, (courtesy of Lynne Truss!)
The last sighting of the day was a flock of Brent Geese that rose up disturbed by a Buzzard and then dropped out of sight.
Birds:, Sparrow, Goldfinch, Robin, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Starling, Stonechat, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Linnet, House Martin, Stock Dove, Pheasant, Crow, Rook, Jackdaw, Magpie, Wood Pigeon, Kestrel, Buzzard, Merlin, Greenshank, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Little Egret, Mallard, Teal, Shelduck, Brent, Canada and Barnacle Geese, Cormorant, Mute Swan, Black-headed, Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls
Flowers: Bristly Ox-tongue, Yarrow, Ribwort Plantain, Marsh Thistle, Great Reedmace, Ragwort, Common Glasswort
Fungus: Petticoat Mottlegill
Other: Dragonfly, Crane Fly.
Next Meeting: Wednesday 14th November 10.00 Two Tree Island – meet at the furthest car park