As I turned the focus adjustment on the 'scope the distant wader out on the beach at The Fitties sprang into sharp focus and revealed itself to be a bar-tailed godwit. It was good to compare the details with those of the black-tailed that I had seen a week ago while they were fresh in my mind. Brian and I had started our day in Buck Beck car park where we made our way across the salt marsh, through the dunes and onto the outer beach. We hoped to find the small group of snow bunting that had been seen out here but our luck was not in. The tide was only just going out, though, and so groups of waders were very close to us, among them turnstones and sanderling. These are always confiding and easy to get close to, but, especially the sanderling, they move very quickly and so are challenging to photograph. They run in and out of the tide like tiny clock work toys as they search for tasty morsels of food. There were plenty of other waders about, particularly large numbers of oystercatchers, but they are more wary and difficult to get close to. Back on the saltmarsh, redshank called insistently and several little egret searched the pools for small fish and shrimps. Large numbers of gulls were out too, black-headed already coming into breeding plumage being the most numerous, but also herring, great black-backed and common present as well.
Giving up on our search for snow bunting we headed for the yacht club at the end of the Humberston Fitties adjacent to Tetney Marshes RSPB reserve. Here a sweep of the beach revealed the godwit and a couple of curlew as well as large numbers of shelduck. I had expected to find the usual flock of brent geese out towards the haven and the dunes of Horseshoe Point and was surprised not to see them. As we made our way along the line of dunes, however, suddenly I heard the familiar guttural calls and we looked up to see a flock of at least 200 fly up from the arable fields behind the sea wall, over the marsh and settle down out on the mud flats. Later another large flock flew up but then quickly settled down again. The lagoons on the salt marsh held large numbers of mallard and black-headed gulls as well as a few mute swans and egrets and, tucked away in the vegetation, some teal and wigeon. We had been searching the large clumps of sea buckthorn, which often hold stonechats, without success when a female popped up just as we returned to the car park. A good morning with 32 species found, increasing my count for the year to 49.
To view large, please click on an image