By this time the tide had come further in and some, at least, of the birds were recognisably close from our vantage point. Small numbers of Pink-footed Geese were present although a dawn start would have been necessary to see the thousands which roosted here overnight. As well as Mute Swans some Whooper Swans were identified when they deigned to remove their heads from under their wings – we suspect they had just migrated in from Iceland. Mallards and Wigeons abounded but we were unable to pick out the Shovelers reported earlier or the Pintails which now winter here in big numbers.
Many waders were too distant for confident identification but Curlews, Oystercatchers and Bar-tailed Godwits were seen clearly and a flock of Golden Plovers was well illuminated by the low sun. A Sparrowhawk was noted by one observer who was looking the other way but as the tide rose birds moved away rather than towards us and we decided to move to the River Findhorn. A large car park, with a height barrier, gives access to a pleasant walk along a wooded riverside where we were out of the cold wind. On this occasion few birds were to be seen or heard here – in April/May it is full of singing Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers and Blackcaps – and we admired (?) the forests of Japanese Knotweed and occasional, menacing stems of Giant Hogweed. An orange blob on a rotten log turned out to be a Slime Mould called Tubifera ferruginosa (literally – “iron-coloured tube-bearer”) – who says the SOC have eyes only for birds?