Saturday 1 April 2023

West Bay Redshank

The month closed with a real treat yesterday afternoon, my first ever wader on the Brit Estuary mud. And what a cracker...

Redshank, well on the way to full breeding dress too.

I've seen Redshank just once before at West Bay, when two were in the soggy field north of the river, sharing a big puddle with a Black-tailed Godwit in March 2020. Such Patchwork Challenge riches would be very welcome right now but, as yesterday's Redshank was so handsome and obliging - and unexpected - I was more than satisfied.

There was a lot of flotsam washed up on the mud and, surprisingly, my vague hope that something might be poking around amongst it was actually realised.

The last few days have mostly been slow going bird-wise, but even so it is a rare thing to come home without some noteworthy little nugget. Like the Cetti's Warbler opposite West Bay's Spar shop on Thursday. Super loud, as they always are, but oddly stilted, incomplete phrasing, as if it might be a youngster finding its voice. Or the flock of 8 Red-throated Divers flying east together that morning, the stand-out highlight of an otherwise dire seawatch. Or this...

Loafing gulls, just east of the main West Bay car park on Thursday afternoon.

Having a decent flock of gulls to pick through is a novelty here, so I made the most of it and spent a few minutes watching the comings and goings. Just before taking that photo there were 292 birds on the deck, all Herring Gulls bar a handful of Lesser and two or three Great Black-backs. I have a feeling the wait for a West Bay Casp is going to be lo-o-o-o-ong...

Other birdy bits and bobs since the last post...

In Monday's pre-work gloom, a single Purple Sandpiper back on the harbour wall rocks...

...followed shortly afterwards by the long-staying female Black Redstart, plus a Wheatear that didn't hang around for photos.

Despite some blowy weather, seawatching has been consistently slow. Here is a list of highlights:

And so to today, April 1st. A pleasant afternoon stroll to Eype and back, but no migrants other than a few Chiffs, and four Swallows through. Best was this...

Despite complete absence of mud, amazingly the River Brit Redshank was still around.

Also on the river was the drake Wigeon, chalking up its fifth calendar month with us...

I wonder if the female Mallard it had seemingly hooked up with is losing interest? A few times lately - including today - I've come across the Wigeon on its own, mooching about aimlessly and calling loudly. During this period I have also seen them together occasionally, but whenever you hear that rather forlorn whistle echoing around the harbour it is a sure sign that the Mallard is elsewhere right now. Poor Wigeon is clearly not quite all there, and I feel a bit sorry for it.

Moths have been a constant pleasure, with a steady trickle of new ones...

Oak Nycteoline. Our second, following one last July.

Pale Pinion - new for garden.

Really chuffed with this photo. A micro that's actually big enough for a quality pic.

Like a tiny carrot. I love this one.

I'm always pleased to catch micro-moths. Despite the potential ID challenge they present, and the scientific names to learn (and forget...and learn again...) I find them totally addictive. A few recent ones, like the above tiny carrot for example, are evidently not an everyday catch locally, and a touch of scarceness always adds to the attraction. So far the year's tally is 36 species and 2 aggregates.

I'm sure there will be many more new moths as spring gets going properly, but for me the month is all about birds, and April is traditionally when the migration floodgates open. I cannot wait.

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