It’s that time of the month again. Time for the Wetland Bird Survey – the first one of 2015. I was looking forward to it as it meant catching up with the other WeBS counters and having a wander around Farlington Marshes. I was also hopeful as 2 spoonbill had been found on New Years Day, and had been reported every day since.
Before arriving at Farlington Marshes, John Shillitoe and I checked some of the playing fields. Despite the presence of some people with a large kite, there were about 850 dark-belled brent geese and 12 or so oystercatchers.
Once we arrived at the Marsh, I joined in with the group walking anti-clockwise around the seawall, checking the fields and pools of water as we went. The water levels were quite high, meaning there were less waders than in previous months. Whereas last year there had been several hundred black-tailed godwits on the Lake, today there were a mere 26 on the Stream and another 3 on the Lake. In contrast, there were 63 avocets out in the harbour itself. This is over double what we had last month! An impressive sight indeed.
There were large numbers of brent geese which is great, and a higher proportion of young birds too! All but two of the brent geese were dark-bellied. One, which Graham Barrett picked out for us was a pale-belled brent goose, and the “clock-wise” team saw a black brent in St John’s playing field. Just need a grey-bellied now to complete the collection…
After a while, we found the spoonbills lurking at the back of the Scrape. Spoonbills being spoonbills, they were of course resting with their spoon shaped bills tucked away. Spoonbills are becoming much more regular on the south coast with large numbers wintering in Poole Harbour I believe. Even so, I still get excited when I see just one!
Not a bad start to the year, though unusually there were less waders, even on the islands in the harbour. That said, I’ve not been taking part in the survey for more than 6 months so maybe this variation is normal.