There were plenty of gulls and cormorants on the sea, taking advantage of the slightly smaller waves (though I still got soaked at one point, more on this later).
We soon found three Rock Pipits (Anthus petrosus) chasing each other up and down the shingle. There’s a running joke that most pipits are so similar, we just name them after the thing they are sitting on. On a rock? Rock Pipit. Tree? Tree Pipit. Grass? Meadow Pipit. This does actually work, to an extent, but has lead to Tarmac Pipit and Car Pipit, so it’s hardly foolproof.
The bird in the picture above is a Rock Pipit as the streaking on its breast is quite dense (so not a Tree Pipit or Meadow Pipit), and set against yellowish underparts (so not a Water Pipit). The pipits were pretty relaxed around us, flitting up and down the shore, peeping at each other:
We also had several Redshank (Tringa totanus) flying up and down the coast, but they were incredibly difficult to spot against the white chalk pebbles when they landed. Eventually two did settle just about within range:
As I tried to sneak a little closer, I violated a great rule of coastal safety. You always keep an eye on the tide. Though it was on the turn, and I was fairly safe in terms of an exit, I wasn’t watching the waves. Suddenly:
A wave crashed over me and the Redshanks. One of them flew, one of them stayed put. I got soaked.
When we got back to the car, someone asked us if we’d seen any Waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus). Apparently he was a non-birder, his daughter desperately wanted to see them, and he’d heard some were there. Sadly, we’d neither seen nor heard them. But I gave him a far longer answer than he probably wanted, as I staked my reputation on a good Waxwing Winter (incidentally, there’s a good article by Kate Risely of the BTO in this months Birdwatching Magazine on Waxwing numbers).
He had however baited some fenceposts to attract Grey Squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis), so I’ll leave you on an “Awwww” shot (if furry tree-rats are your thing…):