I'd planned to go birding with Phil (read his fab blog HERE) on Friday. The weather forecast was looking ominous and I was sure we'd take a raincheck, but it turned out that both of us could do Thursday instead, so we did. We had sunny weather most of the day, making things almost warm-ish by midday, and breezes were light. All very pleasant indeed.
The track produced large numbers of Lapwings, mixed in with a few Ruffs. The winter seed area was devoid of finch-life apart from three Linnets. We reached the start of the reserve proper and had a sneaky look for the Barn Owl in its box, but it wasn't at home. There was, however, a very large flock of Golden Plovers in the fields beyond.
We went on to the raptor viewpoint at Capel Fleet after that. Scanning from the mound produced more Common Buzzards and Marsh Harriers, all very distant, and a couple of even more distant things that could have been male and female Hen Harriers, but could also have been another Buzzard and a gull. From the reedbeds Bearded Tits pinged but refused to show properly, and we had close but brief (very very brief in my case) views of a Water Rail. We met a fellow birder here, who'd seen the Richard's Pipit at Shellness earlier that day, but had failed to find the Shore Lark at Minster. We resolved to try for them both, and headed towards Minster first, aiming to be at Shellness for high tide at 3ish.
We met a couple of people in the car park who'd seen the Shore Lark just 20 minutes before, and as we were talking to them it dropped down and landed on the beach very near us. Then it flew off again, and didn't return for a good 15 minutes.
Then the lark made a welcome return, and we spent a happy 15 minutes taking its photo while it fossicked among the shingle vegetation, quite unworried by our presence.
We left Minster, just as the cloud rolled away and the sun came out (typical), and drove towards Shellness. The plan was to walk parallel to the coast along the flood defence wall, and look for a certain pipit. It was a lovely walk - tide-flooded and bird-filled saltmarsh on one side and open fields on the other. We found plenty of pipits but all were Meadows and none were Richard's.
On the walk back, we found the very fresh (virtually still steaming) remains of a Dunlin, which I'm SURE hadn't been there on our outward walk. I wonder what drama had gone on behind our backs?