I was ou surveying in the badlands of Holderness with a WeBS style survey of Patrington Haven and saltmarsh. It involved my boss sitting in the car doing point counts of the Haven and the flats outside from high tide from the hire car whilst I walked the floodbank 1-2 miles away as a control site. After 9km of walking (our GPS told me) I was tattered and we switched so I spent the afternoon in the car and my colleague walked the bank. Boy was I glad at this as band after band of hail and snow zipped through.
The best birds of the day were incidental and were noted early doors. As we turned up the Haven was packed - over 2000 Bar-tailed Godwit and 800 Knot with lesser numbers of Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin and Redshank. Dark-bellied Brent Geese bombed about with Shelduck all over.
Not many raptors were seen but a bird flushed from the floodbank confused and when it perched on top of a bush both of us reckoned on Merlin. We were wrong though when a subadult female Sparrowhawk was the real id. My boss did see a Merlin whilst I was on my travels but bird of the day was the wintering male Hen Harrier which flushed the Sparrowhawk. As I was walking the floodbank I flushed two Short-eared Owls from the plantation 1.5km along. Little else was in the plantation but super views were had. A few Reed Bunting, Skylark and Fieldfare knocked about with a small group of Twite moving across the saltmarsh. These were a regular feature of the day and were a long awaited Yorkshire tick. Yay. A Little Egret moved between ditches behind me surrounding the fields. I was glad when midday came as 3.30 hours in 1 degree was quite enough for me.
From the car good numbers of the waders were seen with Curlew numbers hitting close to 100. A few Wigeon and Mallard fed on the mud flats. Godwits of both species moved back into the Haven with a number of Redshank, several Brents a Greylag and most pleasingly a single Ruff. The Twite bombed about the floodbank with Lapwing and Golden Plover loafing looking bored. No more raptors were seen but after scanning small numbers of Roe Deer and Hares grazed on Welwick saltmarsh.
Michael Flowers and his students appeared and had the dubious distinction of being noted as low-level disturbance...sorry! We finished up at 3 after a long but rewarding day in the field.