Monday 25 March 2013

Missing Out

Last weekend saw a huge arrival of early spring migrants. Us birders go through winter dreaming of these days – they seem so far away when you are freezing cold and surrounded by winter wildfowl and wading birds!   Last weekend was probably one of the best early spring falls the Axe has ever seen – and I missed (almost) all of it!

I spent a good few hours out on Friday, which I thought showed promise despite (or I should say because of) the awful weather.  There were c35 Sandwich Terns in the valley and over the sea, with most resting on Bridge Marsh which was a new sight for me. I even managed to see at least ten from the house - a cracking house tick!  A couple of short sea watches showed a Red-breasted Merganser fly east (my third of the year!) and two cracking adult summer Med Gulls that came east along the beach before heading up the Estuary.  Other than the Terns though, no summer migrants. So although Friday was ok, and had potential, nothing really materialised.

Then Saturday dawned, and the spectacle begun! All I got back in time for was a quick look from the Farm Gate at dusk, which gave me a handful of Sand Martins.

Sunday was an even better day for migrants - and I was at work.  Karen found an Osprey on the Estuary just after 10am. I didn’t see the message for a good ten minutes, at which point I was on the phone (and on hold!). I finally got off the phone, only to be pulled into the office for a meeting, so when I finally made it out into the back yard I was too late. Although the Osprey was still around (the gulls were making a right fuss) I just couldn’t get on it. Annoying. Oh well – there will be more, you just have to be in the right place at the right time.

It got worse for me as the day went on, as news of falls from other south coast localities plastered twitter.  Then the final nail in the coffin, two Little Ringed Plovers were found on Black Hole Marsh! A bird on my ‘most worrying gaps in my year list’ list.

It really did feel like a 20 hour shift, but 16:15 finally came around and I was out.  I went straight to Black Hole Marsh to see the (now four) Little Ringed Plovers. Well there wasn’t four any more – there were NINE! Along with three Ringed Plovers.  I have only once seen numbers like this before in the spring, and in the following week or two we had Night Heron, White Stork and three Alpine Swifts!! Let’s hope…
I checked a few more sites before returning home at dusk – and added Swallow to the year list at Seaton Marshes.  

Today I have been off patch all day, but understand there are now ten Little Ringed Plovers in the valley. Annoyingly there was another Osprey too - it flew north over town at 13:10. Grrrrr. Bun also netted the first House Martin of the year.

I won’t have much time at all this week for any patch birding, or the following weekend. Hopefully though if a decent patch year tick is found I will be available to nip out.

More important than any of the above though is the current weather. The Chiffchaffs I have seen haven't looked in a good way at all. It really needs to warm up or we may well have something of a disaster on our hands. Fingers crossed...

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