Farlington Marshes 25 February 2024

The unpromising forecast limited attendance to eight members. Their rewards were the absence of the expected rain and despite a buffeting wind an excellent morning’s birding. In a variation of the usual routine the anti-clockwise route was taken. On the way to the hut Greenfinches, a Cetti’s Warbler and a Wren could be heard in the bushes. In the pond behind the hut were Teal, Gadwall and some handsome Pintails. Low in the reeds a male Kingfisher had found a perch and cooperatively stayed stationary to allow superb views. In contrast two Snipe could barely be glimpsed nearby. Suddenly there was a flurry of raptors, a hovering Kestrel, three Buzzards and over the reedbeds a patrolling Marsh Harrier. Across the path was a veritable covey of Coots and the first of the hundreds of Brent Geese on the marsh. A wader flew in and was identified a Greenshank while a female Reed Bunting was spotted on a tree. At the sea wall the tide was approaching full and initially, apart from geese, the only birds in view were a Redshank, a Great Crested Grebe and Cormorants. Then a small flock of Grey Plovers appeared over the water. On the marsh a white goose signalled the presence of its constant companion, the regular Barnacle Goose while large numbers of Wigeon and Shelducks could be seen. Near the channels there was a sudden eruption of birds, mainly Brent Geese and Lapwings, that had to signify a Peregrine; and sure enough one was quickly found perched on the ground. The Deeps had clearly had a makeover with beautifully profiled shingle banks and new tern breeding platforms. Around were numerous ducks including Shovelers and Mallards to add to the list, and at last good numbers of waders. They included numerous Dunlins and Oystercatchers with a sprinkling of Grey Plovers and Curlews. Among them were also a few Ringed Plovers and a single, limping Bar-tailed Godwit. Along the sea wall a Meadow Pipit crept ahead and a Rock Pipit was found nearby. The main lake proved to be so flooded that all the reeds were standing in water; consequently the usual array of waders was absent, the exceptions being roosting Redshanks and about forty Avocets. Most striking though were the numerous Pintails at the water edge. Singles of Little Grebe, Common Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull plus a few Tufted Ducks boosted the sightings. The final treat was three Red-breasted Mergansers on the high water of the harbour. A most unpromising day delivered some excellent birds and an impressive species list of 54.

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