Bird Walk at Widewater

Although tolerably cold but seemingly getting colder over the two hours of the event, twenty six people attended the Bird Walk at Widewater Saline Lagoon LNR today. The group comprised members of World of Widewater (WOW), Friends of Shoreham beach(FOSB) and our society (SDOS) and a good number of members of the public as a result of WOW placing posters around the locality (Well done). A number of people left with details of our programme and we hope to see them again soon.

Such a good number of people inevitably meant we spread out into a number of smaller group and I thank SDOS members for supporting those groups.

We started at the car park entrance with views of the Mute Swans and we were able to explain their breeding progress and the care they receive relative to predators. Little Grebes were seen sheltering under bushes and landings and we were amused when a group of ten all suddenly dived with simultaneous plops!.

Several Cormorants were wing drying, a Little Egret was seen while a pair of Stonechats flitted to and fro and three Great Black-backed Gulls, potential predators of nests and small birds, were seen on ‘Allen Island’ and roof tops.

Passing the main causeway we noted the height of the water resulting in absence of the usual mud patch and the Knot that had been there. The Spring Tide this week, exceptionally high due to the weather conditions, and the rain accounted for the water height which was not favourable for waders. However two groups each found and scoped a perched Kingfisher which, we realised, were two separate birds fairly close together.

A major source of interest and identification discussion was the female Goosander, initially on its own but then joined by a male Red Breasted Merganser. I believe Sue Miles has a photo of them both together. Both Sawbill species, freshwater and marine, in one shot. It seemed the Goosander was taking an interest in the Merganser to the extent that she put her head under water when the Merganser dived!

Due to the cold the size of the party gradually diminished. Those remaining to the end found a maximum of three Turnstones on the shoreline, one actively feeding on a shelled creature Jay observed it break open. An Oystercatcher belatedly arrived followed by sighting of a Great Crested Grebe offshore which we lost after it dived and finally, flying very low out to sea, a flypast of ten dark birds which, with Julian’s assistance, we suspect were Brent Geese.

Thank you to  everyone attending for your contribution, whether questions, answers or sightings and befriending those unknown to us.

by Tim Holter

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