Dull morning on the estuary brings fewer species than usual, but some memorable highlights. Expected neat little Teal, sharp-winged Wigeon and large upright Shelduck on shining mud-banks; small party of back-quiffed Merganser, drakes displaying in quietly filling estuary channel; large party of gulls rest up on wide sand flats. Heavy brown Curlew stand on the river bend; smaller, elegant grey and silver Redshank, active and alert.
Scanning for soaring raptors over far dunes, a small white bar floats over and across expansive reed-beds backed by dark osiers at the back of the marsh; only gradually, camouflaged, brown angled wings and long steering tail of female Hen Harrier materialises, quartering reed-bed margins.
On boulder shore, large, white-on-black Oystercatchers take off, ‘peeping’ frantically as usual with smaller, stripe-winged Turnstones; soft mewing with buzzing calls from a party of small, fast, sharp-winged Ringed Plover and Dunlin wheeling out over the sea then back and away up the estuary. Two distinctive plaintive calls from a single, medium-sized wader heading away in direct flight across the estuary mouth, grey with pale wing-stripe, belly and rump, alighting upright and stout billed in dark bladder-wrack: first Grey Plover of the year.
Taking the eye from the ‘scope, a long, low, dark form swims seaward in the estuary mouth below, heavy-ridged brow deciding unusually close view of Great Northern Diver, seen here perhaps once a year, twisting up a clear white belly to preen before swimming fast with the current into spreading waters of the filling estuary.
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