Monday, 2 March 2015

Move Over February, March Is Here

Hello all, I'm back!  Not been anywhere mind, just haven't had much to blog about and no time to do it.  It won't be hard to sum up my February though... 

We had something of an invasion of Greylag Geese mid month, with a couple of different flocks dropping in on the Axe, the biggest being 22!  These records tied in nicely with an increase in Greylag sightings elsewhere along the south coast, so am certain they relate to genuine wild birds. Best guess is that they are Spanish wintering birds migrating back north. The first small group seen by Tim Wright didn't stay long at all, just one night, before flying off north. Only one lingered, one of the 22, it remained with the semi-resident Canada Geese until nearly the end of the month.  

The increase in temperature part way through the month seemed to fool the birds into thinking spring had come early. So many of the resident species started to sing, and sing well. It even encouraged a couple of the wintering warblers to break out in song, with both Blackcap and Chiffchaff giving it some nearer the end of the month.  

Beautiful blue skies at Lower Bruckland Ponds. You can just about see the white buds appearing on the willow to the right.
These white buds! Lovely to see.

So that's February. Thankfully March has already proved better...

The one I didn't see was an Iceland Gull found by Phil on 1st.  A great find really as there hasn't been many white-wingers about, although a few do seem to be appearing now.  March/April often proves the best months for white-wingers here, when birds that have been wintering south of us head back north.

The quality I did (finally!) see (third attempt!) was the Short-eared Owl  first seen by Mike Lock on Friday evening at Axmouth.  It was seen over the weekend, but it wasn't until this evening that I saw it. Well WE saw it, as Jess is a big Owl-fan, and this was the last of the five regular UK Owls that I needed to show her.  I have tried to show her Short-eared Owl before, just a month or so ago at Wyke Down, but we dipped spectacularly, so to get one on patch is magic. Although I have seen quite a few here over the years, they have pretty much all been passing migrants that have stayed between 5 mins and an hour, so I didn't for a second think I'd be able to get Jess on to one here. But I did, and flipping heck did we see it well. 

Within seconds of arriving at a sunny Axe Cliff Golf Course at 5pm today Dave Helliar pointed it out hunting over the rough grass, and about two minutes later it flew past us about 10 feet away! Despite only having my point and shoot Lumix in my hand on automatic mode, and in the same hand that I was holding the dogs lead, I somehow manage to fluke this...

What a beaut!

We watched it for another twenty minutes or so, and it showed very well almost continuously, but it didn't come that close again...


 
And here's a short video...




Jess kept saying after we dipped this one twice, and the Wyke Down disaster "it wasn't meant to be - when I do see one it will be extra special". She was dead right. I must learn to be this positive when it comes to dipping...

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