Its good to be back


Fieldfares gather on the Hawthorns

It has been really good to return to to my birding patch this weekend. Saying that I have missed the reserve would be a bit of an understatement. When the firebreak finished on Monday I had been looking forward to the weekend all week. Unfortunately the weather has been anything but favourable and on both my visits this weekend it has been pretty awful. Heavy rain showers and strong winds have made any kind of photography challenging.

The spring tides had been predicted to be very high and I had offered to do some early visits and check to see whether there were any ringed Curlews roosting on the lagoons.

On Saturday morning, Monks Lagoon had a big flock of waders. Two large flocks of Curlews comprising of 270+ birds were roosting just before dawn. In with the flock of Curlews closest to Hide 1 were approximately 10 Black Tailed Godwits. The second flock of Curlews had 3 Grey Plovers and 3 Knot mixed in with it. Also on the other side of the island were 4 Barnacle Geese.

Saturdays wader flock

It was really difficult to focus on anything in the pre-dawn gloom especially as it was raining. The water levels are now quite high on the lagoons and the Curlews were standing in water that covered practically the entirety of their legs making the observation of leg rings impossible.

At the break of the dawn, just when the light started to improve the Curlews took flight causing everything else to take flight. It was at this point that I then realised that on the mud verges bordering the island had been a large flock of smaller waders consisting of Dunlins and Ringed Plovers.

Within a matter of seconds there was nothing left on Monks. The rain started to ease so I made my my around the reserve checking the various platforms as I did so. There were quite a few ducks on the Priors Lagoon. Wigeon have not arrived in larger numbers and I noticed that there are good numbers of Teal and Shoveler ducks.

In recent weeks there has been two Glossy Ibis being seen. Many of the sightings have been on the wetlands near Boat Lane and Red house Barns. However they have been seen together on the lagoons at Goldcliff. I am hoping the two birds are the same pair that I saw in September and I suspect is "Flossy" the Glossy and a juvenile bird ( the new Glossy).

There was no sign of these enigmatic birds whatsoever.

The rain stopped as I got to the seawall and it was great to walk the seawall again. The air was fresh and the tide was waning but remained very high.

Back on the wall, at high tide.

Suddenly a rain storm swept in and it was time to find some cover. As I walled towards the seawall hide I saw a female Marsh Harrier sweep in to the reserve from the pill. She quartered Becs Lagoon and then Priors causing total disarray amongst the ducks.

That was about all the excitement I had on Saturdays visit, overall the reserves lagoons were on the quiet side.

The hedgerows and surrounding fields were anything but quiet. The "winter thrushes" - Fieldfare and Redwings, have now arrived in force and are taking full advantage of the berry rich hawthorn hedges.

These birds are very skittish and difficult to get close to. As I walked through the reserve the sound of clucking Fieldfares and seeping Redwings was everywhere. Most of the pictures I could take of them were silhouette shots.

Sundays visit was a very similar experience from start to finish. At dawn the wader flock were in front of Hide 1. The Curlew flock was a lot smaller consisting of about 20-30 birds. However the smaller waders were in good numbers. There was a big flock of Dunlins 150+. In with the Dunlins were a number of Turnstones and about 20 Knots.

One big difference though was the presence of Peregrine Falcon on the mini-island. It was busily eating its breakfast.

As soon as the light improved , it was just like the wader flock suddenly noticed the Falcon and they hit the panic button. Everything took off and cleared the lagoon. The Peregrine finished off its breakfast and then took off heading east.

Sundays waders flock at Dawn

Once again I was unable to see any coloured rings on the Curlews, there legs being completely submerged and the light was shocking during the rain.

One notable species of duck was seen on Sunday - Gadwall. I did not seen any on Saturday but on Sunday I saw them on Priors Lagoon.

On my return to my car there was a flock of Fieldfare drinking from puddles on the road.

Fieldfares drinking from puddles on the road

Despite the awful weather its been a joy to be back on the reserve and I am looking forward now to later this week when I have some time off work. Fingers crossed the weather will be better.

If any of my readers spot any ringed Curlews this week please try and take a photograph and let me know.

Bird List

  1. Curlew
  2. Knot
  3. Dunlin
  4. Turnstone
  5. Ringed Plover
  6. Barnacle Goose
  7. Canada Goose
  8. Greylag Goose
  9. Carrion Crow
  10. Magpie
  11. Marsh Harrier
  12. Peregrine Falcon
  13. Herring Gull
  14. Lesser Black Backed Gull
  15. Black-Headed Gull
  16. Shelduck
  17. Teal
  18. Shoveler
  19. Wigeon
  20. Mallard
  21. Tufted Duck
  22. Cettis Warbler (Calling)
  23. Redwing
  24. Fieldfare
  25. Blackbird
  26. Chaffinch
  27. Starling
  28. Robin
  29. Woodpigeon
  30. Meadow Pipit


  1. Great to know you’re back on the reserve to keep us updated. Love the monochrome seascape. At least you saw some waders, I think my strategy of “I’ll get there just after dawn when there’s a bit more light” is why I haven’t seen them.

    1. Thanks John. Looking forward to a chat when we meet next.


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