Saltfleetby-Theddlethorpe NNR LBC Walk - Saturday October 14th 2023
After a day of torrential rain on Friday, Saturday dawned dry, if a bit chilly, with a westerly airflow. As the morning progressed the sun came out and all sixteen participants enjoyed a lovely walk, led by the Reserve Warden, Owen Beaumont.
Gathering in the car park we were treated to a good flock of pink footed geese flying out from their roost site and heading inland to feed. A small group of long-tailed tits were foraging in the trees along the access path. We then set off south along the track at the back of the Reserve. Here the willows, hawthorns, and other varied trees and shrubs hosted a few mixed tits, goldcrests and chaffinch with some members of the group seeing a handsome great spotted woodpecker, which flew across and landed in a dead tree. Several mute swans were on the river Eau and a pheasant and three pied wagtails on the intervening fields. Perhaps the main interest was overhead, with a single cattle egret rapidly disappearing behind the trees towards Elm House farm, a cormorant, black-headed gulls and a buzzard all seen. Skylarks were much in evidence throughout the morning, both here and over the salt marsh, with around 40 being counted by one participant.
A grey heron and little egrets were also present.
Leaving the rear path we cut back across the Reserve, where linnets and a reed bunting were vocal, to return via the track bordering the salt marsh. A mixed group of gulls was resting on one of the sand spits comprising Greater black backs, herring, black headed and common gulls. Distant waders picked up and identified through the scope included sanderling, dunlin, a ringed plover, a small flock of golden plover, a few curlew, oystercatchers, some shelduck and redshank.
The highlight of the morning however, was undoubtedly the display of raptors. Firstly, two marsh harriers and a peregrine, followed by a male merlin which we watched hunting, and then catching, a fleeing snipe, whereupon one of the marsh harriers immediately swooped in and snatched it. The harrier landed out of sight but this attracted the attention of the carrion crows and a further harrier. Some group members also had a sparrowhawk. Quite a spectacle!
Further along a variety of ducks, mainly teal, mallard and shoveler were visible on the lagoon out on the marsh, also a single ruff. A whooper swan flew in over our heads and Owen thought that he saw a fieldfare, this being the only thrush seen.
The final bird count for the morning was around 50 species. Other interesting observations included a parasol mushroom, two common darters, and a fox moth caterpillar.
The group dispersed around 11.0, with several members subsequently catching up with four cattle egrets in the company of the cows at Elm House farm. A very enjoyable walk and many thanks to Owen for giving up his time to lead us.