Yet another amazing day on the patch (lots of photos) and slightly depressing too, seeing how the birds are so desperate for food, not surprising when you see the photo of the UK from Space - http://newtonstringer.blogspot.com/
The Otter Estuary was almost completely frozen this morning and a quick scan of the only open areas produced a cracking drake Pintail (quite uncommon on the Otter) and a rather depressing sight of a Black-tailed Godwit sat on the edge of the ice with large clumps of ice on its wings. An adult Med Gull, 2+ Common Gull and 2+Lesser-black Backed Gulls were amongst the usual Herring Gull and Black-headed Gull masses and odd Great-black Backed Gull. At least 50+ Snipe visible around the Cricket Pitch today desperately trying to find soft ground around the tree banks. A look at the Chiff Pool produced just 1 Collybita but no sign of the Siberian Chiffchaff in a brief search. The highlight of the day was finding a cracking patch tick, a Jack Snipe feeding in a small stream with some Common Snipe and 3 Water Rail. However, it was what I witnessed next which was pretty amazing! One of the Water Rails feeding in the same stream, suddenly grabbed a Meadow Pipit, drowned it and then began to devour it for the next 10 minutes just metres from me and Doug! See Video nasty below!
It just shows just how desperate these birds are to find food - Water Rails have been recorded taking small birds during harsh weather (BB Axell & Blundell 1962) - Has anyone else witnessed such behaviour??
Other birds on the Otter/the sea included:
Peregrine chasing Redwing and Fieldfare, Skylark, 2 Yellowhammer, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Cetti's Warbler still feeding near the chiff pool, 3 Tufted Ducks (2 on the Otter and 1 on the sea), 1 Pochard on the sea, 4 Little Grebe, 2 Dunlin, 11 Black-tailed Godwit and very large numbers of Starling going to roost (not counted).