Saturday 4th February
Very cold, easterly breeze, dry.
I was really looking forward to the weekend, not having been out birding for a couple of weeks, and I was just getting ready to leave the house Saturday morning when the phone rang - the lad at work had taken ill. I managed to get some cover until 1pm, then I would have to go in for the rest of the day. Just to make matters worse, around this time I received a text from Chris Hindle letting me know there was a red-head Smew near Cold Harbour, a rare bird in the area. I decided to visit Reculver for an hour, even though it was a bit of a rush, and offshore I saw 85 Wigeon fly west, 14 Gadwall east, about 400 Brent flew east, including the Pale-bellied Brent. Other bits seen were 4 Snipe east, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit east, and all the usual waders. The cold weather made them less nervous than usual, so I managed a couple of photos.
Walking back to the car the Black Redstart was flitting about on the rocks west of the towers.
Sunday 5th February
Deep snow, cold, calm and overcast.
I was keen to get some birding in today, having had my time cut short Saturday. I didn't set off too early, instead waiting to let the roads clear a bit. I cleaned a patch of the garden and put plenty food and water out. Late morning I had a call from Tim to say he was looking at an adult Iceland Gull at St Mildred's Bay in Westgate. It's been a few years since i've seen an Iceland Gull, so an easy choice where to go today.
I spent a couple of hours searching but couldn't locate the gull, though I enjoyed seeing plenty of waders, including a Purple Sandpiper, Sanderling, Dunlin, Curlew and Golden and Grey Plovers. Offshore were a few rafts of Great Crested Grebes, 3 Shelduck flew west, and a couple of Rock Pipits were on the rocks.
I had just rung Tim to say the gull had gone, when I picked it out sitting on the most distant rocks at the edge of the tide. Either it had dropped in while I wasn't looking, or maybe I had walked past it. Anyway, it didn't stay long, a minute later it flew up and away out to sea.
This Common Gull also posed nicely....