It's been a couple of months since the seabird breeding season finished now and a large part of that time has been spent doing the inevitable (but absolutely essential) report writing, analysis and catching up on other work placed to one side for its duration.  Now up to date, we're already progressing on next years work whilst carrying out winter tasks.  With the 2017 seabird breeding season being prepared for but still 4-5 months away, I've been spending my field time with our amazing wintering Geese, Wildfowl and Waders.  

Above: Brent Geese feed as the sun sets at Southmoor, Langstone Harbour during a survey in late October.

Above: A Heron and an Oystercatcher at the Kench LNR during early November.

Last week, we cleared some of the dead vegetation remaining from the summer on the Oysterbed Islets.  In most places, we'd generally encourage leaving vegetation but in this particular spot, removing it opens up the shingle for a host of roosting shorebirds.  

Above: a variety of waders coming in to roost.

Imagine if you will, that you're a Dunlin, you only weigh around 55g and along with thousands of your kin, you're still getting your energy back after the journey from your summer breeding grounds.  After a long day feeding on tasty invertebrates in eastern Solents mud flats, the tide is rising, pushing you further and further up the shore.  You need somewhere to roost above the tideline until it begins to ebb again.  Although a lot of the shoreline is occupied by people, there are still quiet spots that look inviting except for one thing....there might be something hiding in the vegetation ready to jump out on you.  What you really want is an open expanse where you and your thousands of companions can rest whilst being able to see all around for threats.

Above: The wintering bird assemblage form clouds in the Langstone Harbour sky with Portsmouth in the background.

With the summers growth of dead vegetation removed, this weeks exceptional high tides bought about in part by the unusual closeness of the moon offered a great opportunity to revisit and see just how many shorebirds/waders were taking up the newly available roosting space.  I'll let the pictures & video below answer for me and also invite you to enjoy this amazing natural spectacular for yourselves (just be sure to check the tide timetable for high tide).