Trip reports

Shuart & Reculver (Leaders Sue Carter & Steve Goodrich)

Shuart & Reculver (Leaders Sue Carter & Steve Goodrich)
Blackcap [Richard Hanman]

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Six keen souls arrived at the early starting time of 8.30 am at Shuart, despite the ominous weather forecast. Before we had left the car park we had seen blackcap, chiffchaff, wren, song thrush, mistle thrush, blackbird, jackdaw, rook, red-legged partridge, two green woodpeckers and a stunning male wheatear sitting on the crest of a ploughed field furrow. Thanks to John for spotting him!

Further along the lane between the hedgerows Richard picked up a great-spotted woodpecker and we also saw great tit and robin, before we heard the distinctive machine-gun rattle of a lesser whitethroat. Unfortunately, we couldn't locate the bird itself.

We then startled a couple of grey partridges which flew across a field and disappeared from view. Skylarks serenaded us from above and we heard a sedge warbler singing. Our first cuckoo called and the bird was seen in flight before it alighted on a tree and a male marsh harrier quartered the farmland. A yellow wagtail was then spotted appropriately perched in a field of yellow oil-seed rape.

With health and safety in mind we crossed the railway line and heard the scratchy warble of a whitethroat and saw the bird flitting around in a bush. We also had linnets and house sparrows by the horse paddocks.

On reaching the sea wall we decided against walking along it because of the numerous cyclists using the route and the strong, cold wind which was blowing on shore. So, after checking the scrapes near Plumpudding, where we picked up turnstone, redshank and some noisy oystercatchers, we walked along the grassed lee-ward side towards Reculver towers.

The yellow glow of the oil-seed rape was everywhere and we spotted a couple of birds fluttering around in top of the plants. They turned out to be a pair of whinchat in stunning breeding finery.

Another cuckoo, this time a silent one, was perched in a bush with a meadow pipit haranguing it. As we neared the duo, the cuckoo took off across the rape field pursued by two meadow pipits. We decided that it was a female cuckoo about to lay her egg in the pipits' nest and indeed the cuckoo returned to the spot once we had passed.

We met a local lady walking her dog and she told us that she had heard a bird sounding like a fisherman's reel in the bushes about a mile further on, where the sea wall joins the Wantsum Channel. It's good to listen to local knowledge and sure enough when we arrived at the spot we heard the unmistakable song of a grasshopper warbler. We all had excellent views of the bird which was perched in a bush and saw its orange gape as it reeled away turning its head from side to side. Bird of the day for all of us and a life tick for Warren.

We then set off along the Wantsum Walk towards the railway embankment only picking up a shelduck and lapwing before crossing the railway. By then our aching bodies and the cold dampness hastened our retreat to the cars. Despite this the six of us thoroughly enjoyed the morning and we ended up with a respectable total of 50 and some very special birds.

Sue Carter & Steve Goodrich