"For now we are young let us lay in the sun and count every beautiful thing we can see" Neutral Milk Hotel.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

A warm Sunday

The day started well with an Early Grey, Clouded Drab and Hebrew Character in the moth trap. Today was WeBS day so I made for the west end roosts shortly after dawn to catch the high tide. Almost as soon as I began to count a long line of Oystercatchers, I caught sight of a small bird bobbing about offshore, barely discernible in the weak, hazy light. Could it be a Red-breated Merganser - it didn't look right though - too small. And it was no Great Crested Grebe. Perhaps it was a Red-necked Grebe ? But really, it was too far out and too far to my west to make much of it at all. But it did kook interesting. Just then Phil appeared to the west and scampered eastwards to tell me he had been watching what he thought could be a Slavonian Grebe. He indicated an angle to seawards roughly to where I'd been watching 'my' bird and as there was nothing else on the sea, this had to be the same bird.  Excellent ! Once we re-located the bird, it  had travelled a considerable distance eastwards and come closer inshore, and we realised it was actually a stunning Black-necked Grebe in summer plumage. The golden ear tufts were just discernible as were the dark orange lower flanks. The bird's peaked-cap and steep-headed profile really gave it away though. I managed some dismal shots through my scope and made a couple of calls and over the next hour or so, several others were able to see either their first Black-necked Grebe for the patch or the first in many, many years.

The NOA moth trap held a stunning Oak Beauty as well as 2 March Moths, a Common Quaker, Clouded Drab and several Hebrew Characters. Robert and I went to try and get better views of the Early Longhorns in the forestry - hoping for some decent photographs. Robert's 50X came in handy and he managed to get shots which clinched the identification - new for the reserve, patch and area. By late afternoon, there were 12 dancing above the Sallows. We searched flowing Sallows for various invertebrates and found another first for the reserve - Tree Bumblebee, as swell as its highly conniving mimic, the hoverfly Criorhina berberina and the much less attractive small overfly Platycheirus albimanus. A rather confiding Water Vole by the Hun Bridge and a hunting Short-Eared Owl in the dunes finished the late afternoon off nicely.

The west end roosts, sea and saltings held:

Black-necked Grebe 1
Great Crested Grebe 1
Curlew 3
Turnstone 13
Oystercatcher 492
Dunline 16
Grey Plover 111
Teal 4
Redshank 58
Sanderling 36
Cormorant 7
Bar-ailed Godwit 97
Ringed Plover 6
Common Gull 48
Herring Gull 420
Great Black-backed Gull 6
Knot 30
Brent Goose 19
Black-headed Gull 49
Avocet 12
Little Egret 1
Greenshank 2
Snipe 9
Jack Snipe 1
Shoveler 1
Shelduck 7

About 400 Common Scoter flew east as well as a party of 15 Eider, including about 6 smart adult drakes. Single Wheaters were in the forestry and on the beach, 5 were on the golf course and 4 on the east bank.

Black-necked Grebe, Holme NWT, 30th March 2014

Oak Beauty, Holme NOA, 30th March 2014

Platycheirus albimanus, Holme NWT, 30th March 2014

Early Grey, Hunstanton, 30th March 2014

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