RSPB OLD HALL MARSHES
As soon as I pulled into the reserve car park the familiar soon of hundreds of Brent Geese honking as they came in to land was immediately obvious. I rushed to the scene just in time to see 500+ dark-bellied Brent Geese recently alighted in the improved pastures about 1/4 mile NE of Old Hall Marsh Farm. Despite scanning the flock thoroughly the Red-breasted Goose still remained elusive until smaller flocks gradually trickled in and amongst them I glimpsed the characteristic Red breast of my first ever RED-BREASTED GOOSE (a 1st. winter) (a life tick). It alighted near the center of the already present flock of dark-bellied Brent Geese and showed amazingly. I decided to follow the footpath further around the reserve to obtain a better view and from the sea wall it showed very well allowing me to take some record digi-scope shots.
My first view of the 1st. win. RED-BREASTED GOOSE
try and find the bird!
Joyce's Head Fleet
On our way back along the South side of the Peninsula, 3+ Little Egrets were of note as was the sight of a possible WATER PIPIT on the edge of the concrete sea wall. There were also an impressive number of Dunlin and Grey Plovers resting on the exposed marsh (waiting for the next low tide). We also found a single Hare washing itself and 3 win. SPOTTED REDSHANKS (a year tick) in the Irongate Lagoon. Another birder also kindly notified us of a immature colour ringed SPOONBILL (a year tick) which we later found sieving the marshy waters for invertebrates. It was an impressive bird and thoroughly white, a little bedraggled and the lower mandible appeared translucent red at times when the light shone through.
light shining through the translucent red upper and lower mandible
Also in the Irongate Lagoon we heard a CETTI'S WARBLER calling from deep within the reads and a small group of BEARDED TITS were also calling, but unfortunately didn't show themselves.
Other birds of note around the reserve included a Green Woodpecker climbing the pole of an owl nest box and dozens of Reed Buntings on the improved marshes, 1 Linnet, 1♂ Stonechat approaching summer plumage, 64+ Black-tailed Godwit and dozens of Curlew (the later two amongst the Brent Geese). Ducks included Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Wigeon, Teal and Pochard mainly found in the Irongate Lagoon. After departing with Alan I decided to go back to the huge flock of Brent Geese in the improved fields that had just arrived north of Old Hall Creek. I was once again glad to re-find the Red-breasted Goose amongst the masses and took a few last digi-scope shots.
Next, I decided to retrace my steps back along the sea wall to the headland at Tollesbury Fleet. It was here that I picked up on a BARN OWL perched near Pennyhole Fleet, I tried to take some digi-scope shots but it soon took flight and began quartering the fields, after less than a minute of watching it made a beeline for where I was standing, still making occasional swoops into the grass but it soon diverted its attention to me, standing on the top of the sea wall. It was clear that it had noticed me and deliberately began flying towards me, it then approached even closer as it flew at head height up the sea wall and made an amazingly close bank less than two feet from my head, whilst I stood in shock and awe! It glared into my eyes with its dark iris as its silent wing beats almost scrapped my face I was certain this was a moment I shall never forget!
Nothing could have topped such an amazing sight but as I was still in high spirits I stopped to search the reedbeds once again for the Bearded Tits with another local observer. Fortunately, our efforts paid off as 3♂ BEARDED TITS (a life tick) came into view (not including 2 other birds calling from within the reeds) as they fed on the tops of the reed heads, what a way to end the day!