Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Migrants still trickling through

I love this time of year, when Spring is taking hold and birds are on the move.  Every time you go out, there is the hope of seeing something new passing though your bit of the country.  I try and get out as often as I can and pre and post work visits become more frequent.

On April 12th, a pre work visit was greeted with the sight of three Avocets on the near spit.  A scarce bird here, I have only seen two singles before, with the last in October 2014.  The birds appeared to be two males and a female, the two males were squabbling constantly and I observed copulation at one stage.  Unfortunately, I could not spend much time with them as work was beckoning.  However, the birds stayed all day and I was able to see the again in the evening, flying around amongst the gathering gulls.  It's a shame the morning light was so poor.

Jim R had a brief view of a Ring Ouzel later that day at Emmett's, which unfortunately was not seen again and would have been a patch tick for me.

A post work visit to Pump Lane on the 13th didn't give me my hoped for Wheatear, but I did see my first Coal Tit of the year - always a bit of a scarcity on patch.

The 14th, was the first sunny and mild day for a while.  I was out early and notched up 12 Blackcaps (11 singing males), 8 Willow Warblers (7 singing males), but just the 4 Chiffchaffs singing around the lake.  The Cetti's was also singing and there were 7 Common Terns along with the usual two Oystercatchers and two LRPs.

I decided to spend some time at Emmett's in case the Ring Ouzel had reappeared, which unfortunately it hadn't, but did see my first Lesser Whitethroat of the year - a silent bird working its way long a hedge.  On my way back down the hill, I glanced up to see a small falcon powering its way NNW about 50m above the fields.  I watched it through bins and although it was back on, I could see that it was a male Merlin and could just make out the black terminal bar at the tip of the tail.  It veered more northerly and powered on through until lost from view.  Amazing, two migrating Merlins within a couple of weeks of April, with this being only my third.  I hope that the next one lingers a bit more than the previous three!

My usual check of Pump Lane was finally rewarded with my first Wheatear of the year, a nice male, though soon after seeing it perched on the fencing, it flew off and could not be relocated.


One of a few lingering birds
The 15th was also a nice still morning.  I was on patch by 6:30am just as the light mist was lifting.  I spent some time watching and counting the Common Terns.  They never seem to be here first thing, but begin to drift in, so numbers continue to rise through the morning.  I reached 13 birds after some time, but later in the day, my peak was 18 and during the afternoon 24 were counted by Pete S.  Just after 7am, I had checked the riverside meadows and was walking along the south bank when I heard the familiar 'kirrick' call of a Sandwich Tern.  Sure enough, as I scanned the lake, a small line of three birds flew in from the south-east corner.  Its been a great year for this species so far on patch, with three seen flying over on March 17th, then a single on April 9th (which I missed) and now another three.  The birds milled around over the spit for a short time, thinking about landing.  Eventually one did, so I grabbed my camera, but almost immediately, the Common Terns it landed amongst took off, taking the Sandwich with it.  The three Sandwich Terns then flew to the East side.  I hoped that they might land again, but a minute or two later, they flew high out of the south-west corner, calling as they went, never to be seen again and with me failing to capture anything on film (or digital whatever...)

Almost forgot, prior to the terns arriving, I had earlier watched five LRPs on the spit, with much displaying and agro, though two soon flew off leaving the usual three in place.