Friday 24 April 2015

Some Nice Variety

Yesterday turned out to be a pretty decent day.  The only migrants about in quantity were hirundines (about time as I've only seen small numbers so far this year) with 200+ at Bridge Marsh during the morning, mostly Swallows but also several House and Sand Martins...

Was really hoping for a Red-rumped...

Although there wasn't anything else about in quantity yesterday I did have some nice snippets of quality, including my second Lesser Whitethroat of the year rattling away whilst watching these hirundines. Amazingly I have still not seen or heard a Common Whitethroat on patch this year, so to have two Lessers before any Commons is just weird. Sometimes I don't see any Lessers in an entire spring, compared with tens and tens of Commons. 

Just prior to this, I had a Grasshopper Warbler reeling for about twenty seconds lower down the Estuary near the Riverside workshops. Really thought I'd missed out on one of these skulkers this spring, they've been few and far between like many other passage species.  

I did Beer Head as well, but after flogging the eastern half of it I thought it was going to be a complete write off, the bushes were dead. When I reached the old Coastguard Lookout though a nice double whammy made it all better...

A fairly shy but very vocal male Redstart, only my second of the spring
This gorgeous male Whinchat, also my second of the year

I spent a lot of time with the Whinchat, it was a pity to leave him as he was such a stunner...

And now to today, which has been pretty disappointing.  I was up at 5am, and at Beer Head for 6am with my mist nets and poles. To me the weather looked perfect for a fall, the wind had switched round to the south west overnight, and was light, plus there was 100% cloud cover. I also checked some European satellite images last night which showed a high pressure sitting over the Med with virtually no cloud between us and southern Spain.

By 8:15 I had caught just three birds, two Chiffchaffs (both possibly local breeders) and a Robin. The only other grounded migrant I saw was a Sedge Warbler in full song - which was a bit of an odd one.  That was it for the bushes, pitiful and far from a fall. Two summer plumaged Golden Plover over low west were nice mind, with eight Whimbrel doing the same a little later. 

By this time last spring I had trapped and ringed 127 birds at Beer Head, including 76 Willow Warblers. The three birds I caught here this morning were the first three birds I've ringed up here this year.  I have tried, I've woken up at 5am on five mornings this month, but all sessions have been no good.  On three of these visits the net sites were completely blown out by an easterly wind (my rides are fairly sheltered from anything northerly or westerly, but exposed to easterly winds), on another thick fog and clear skies above deemed the session a fail before it begun, and the fifth attempt was today - when there just weren''t any migrants about.

The best sight of the morning was during one of the daily dog walks, when a flock of 16 Pale-bellied Brent Geese flew close west past the sea front...

Just about got them all in frame!

They flew past me at 09:52, I tweeted Dawlish Warren and texted Lee C, and later learnt Dave Jewell had them off the Warren fly in from the east then south at 10:27. Always love it when migrating birds are tracked, and it's really interesting to know it takes a Brent Goose flock about 25 minutes to fly just under 20 miles.

By the time they reached Dawlish they must have lost the 17th bird of the flock. Can you spot the Brent Goose-wannabe?

You don't fool me Mr Carbo

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