Saturday was waterbird count day, but before we started the cattle, newly turned out on the Hookheath Meadows reserve needed checking. It has been difficult to get animals to grazed this small site, not just because there is not much grazing but also because of the new TB testing requirements, which add to costs every time animals are moved between sites. The cattle we have are British Whites an old breed and one that should be quite happy eating the rougher vegetation of the reserve.
After a quick look into Southmoor where we also have cattle, it was onto Farlington to d o the bird count. At high tide the waders roosting on the Lake were: black-tailed godwit 378, bar-tailed godwit 9, grey plover 280, lapwing 47, knot 20, golden plover 1, dunlin 263, curlew sandpiper 11, ringed plover 3, redshank 640, spotted redshank 2, greenshank 20, oystercatcher 1, snipe 67. Something like 1700 waders and this month the 700 or so oystercatcher that often come in on the higher tides.
Out in the Harbour we saw the first 14 brent geese of the autumn, and a large flock of wigeon, which after much counting and recounting as they were flushed by a passing boat totalled 472. The brent arrive towards the end of the third week of September without fail regardless of the weather. The first group is typically only around twenty or so, rising to a hundred or two within a few days. Other birds included 9 or perhaps 18 pintail, 27 little egret and 826 curlew.
Aside from the waterbirds we saw a couple of whinchat, a wheatear and a marsh harrier.