Saturday 19 March 2016

Finally It Kicks Off

I won't lie, the birding last week (from Monday to Friday) wasn't great, in fact it was highly frustrating.  Despite the dates, the mostly blue skies and apparent ideal weather for north bound migrants, it just didn't happen.  This wasn't only the case on patch, but all across the UK there were Sand Martin-empty skies and millions of fence posts without Wheatears on.  I did see a few bits of interest but I had to work hard to get these scraps.

On Tuesday there was a pretty decent northward passage of Meadow Pipits, especially on Beer Head, and on the Estuary two Greylag Geese were new in (at a very typical time of year for this species on the south coast).

Two Greylag with the local bullies

Wednesday and Thursday were pitiful, but Friday was better.  We did actually have some migrants on Friday, two Wheatear on Bridge Marsh and three Sand Martins over Black Hole Marsh, but I didn't see either!  I did though see my first Dunlin on the Estuary for about four months, and two Green Sands on Bridge Marsh, which although we haven't had any wintering with us this year, had the 'feel' of being wintering birds as opposed to true spring migrants.  I also gave Seaton Marshes a visit and was pleased to see both the Glossy Ibis and the Green-winged Teal...

It was nice to see the Teal on the Estuary

All week there's been really good numbers of big gulls on the Estuary, and I was sure I'd eventually turn something up in with them. But not yet...

Then Saturday comes along, and probably because of the cloud cover it all happens.  I only had about an hour out in the field today, but in that time I saw a Little Ringed Plover, four Dunlin, three Sand Martin and three Goldeneye!  The Little Ringed Plover was on Bridge Marsh and found by Phil late morning, the Dunlin were on the Estuary, the Sand Martins flew north from the farm gate late this afternoon, and the three Goldeneye (including a stunning male) were found by Clive from the Tower Hide. Goldeneye is a pretty decent patch rare, you can normally see them in a given year, but only with a bit of jam as they are most often seen flying past at sea, or settled on it, but they are not a regular bird on the Estuary by a long way. The only photographic evidence I got of any of the above four species was this shocker...

There is a LRP in this photo!

As well as what I saw, three Ruff, numerous more Sand Martins, a Wheatear and a Yellow-legged Gull were also seen by various local birders here today, so today really was a pretty good day.  What really gripped me off though was an Iceland Gull off Exmouth early this morning, this should have been mine in the week!  

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