Friday, 11 March 2016

What's The Hold Up?

I often find March a month of frustration when it comes to birding. You feel like you've turned the corner from winter to spring, but nothing actually happens... and that's exactly what is going on at the moment. Usually though there is an obvious reason why nothing is happening (snow, a blasting cold northerly wind, storms on the migration routes, etc) but at the moment there seems to be no apparent reason.  Every day a check of BirdGuides shows an almost complete void of early spring migrants which just seems really odd, yes there's been the odd Sand Martin, LRP, Garganey, plus a bit of obvious spring stringing - but way short of what I have been expecting. Really hope things pick up soon.

Despite the lack of any spring migrants elsewhere, I did give Beer Head a wander late morning yesterday but came up with nothing more than five Stonechat...

I've included this photo more for the blue sky!

It's not just the summer migrants in short supply, with a new moon this week I've been expecting some wader passage on the Estuary (maybe an Avocet, Barwit, Ringo or Grey Plover?) but I've seen absolutely nothing new. 

The sea has also been dire, mind you it has been dire all winter.  We usually have double-figure counts of Great Crested Grebe here, but three has been my max count all winter, and there only seems to be one left now.  These, along with Cormorants and Shags, are the only species of sea birds I've seen settled on the sea in Seaton Bay ALL winter!  Dreadful.  I did have another look this morning, but after seeing nothing except, surprise surprise, one Great Crested Grebe, I decided to give Branscombe a look...

Finally some birds!  Although many were off to the west (with five being too far away to positively ID) there were divers. 12 Red-throated and three Great Northerns to be precise. The second closest of all of them was a stunning full summer plumage Red-throat - what a treat!  Also 10+ distant auks on the sea but nothing else. There was nothing really moving over the sea at all, so two Common Scoter east and a flock of 15 west were notable indeed.

Once I had given the sea the attention I felt it required, I wandered up to the sewage works. Several Goldcrests, a green Chiffy and an absolute stunner of a tristis Siberian Chiffchaff - a real pallid grey bird - greeted me.  Sadly it was never close enough for pics, but you should know by now that never stops me...

Awful pic, but not a hint of green or yellow anywhere!

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