Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Migration Moving Up A Gear

Today was forecasted to be the day the recent colder weather was to be replaced by a milder air flow, so I had high hopes we might see a nice pulse of spring passage - and I was right! 

First thing this morning I had 11 Sand Martins circling over my head which was nice, but they soon moved off north.  It was also evident early on that there were still good numbers of Chiffchaffs about, but judging by the amount of fat on them (I caught seven during a short ringing session) they won't be around much longer.

Spring Chiffchaffs often arrive in to the UK with this thick black substance on the feathers around the base of their bills, it's dried pollen that they've acquired whilst feeding up to fuel their migration.

A late morning walk around Beer Head showed more passage, in particular Meadow Pipits with birds arriving in off the sea almost constantly, although very few appeared to land and they continued on northwards. I counted 200 in an hour, but I bet they were arriving in far greater number earlier in the day.  It was nice to see some more Wheatears too, with five males together along with a single Stonechat...

A fine male Wheatear and a bit of gorse!

Best of all up here though, and it was the reason why I counted Meadow Pipits arriving for an hour, were a pod of about ten Bottlenose Dolphins. At first they were well to the east, somewhere off Branscombe, but they slowly moved westwards, passing Beer Head probably between 1/2 and 3/4 a mile out.  Not a common sight off this part of the coast, so they are always a treat to see...

This is part of the pod seemingly actively hunting - it was so interesting watching so many different behaviours.

In the pod were three or four young ones, and they seemed to spend a lot of time just messing around!  I only saw one or two adults do a full breach, but the young'uns were constantly jumping about...

What a spectacle!  And to finish, here's a short video showing most of the pod...

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