Monday, 8 April 2019

More Birding Required!

I've not seen loads or been out that much, but I have seen enough to write this...

There's been a refreshing pulse of wader activity on the Axe Estuary since the turn of the month, kicked off by a Ringed Plover north of Coronation Corner on 2nd with three Dunlin.  On 6th whilst sky watching from my bedroom window, I was surprised to see a very high-flying flock of c30 Black-tailed Godwits power in from the north west then drop like a stone into the valley. Frustratingly as they twisted and turned before heading off down river I could make out a smaller, plain-winged wader in their midst. I suspect it was a Knot, but there was knot anything I could do about it. The following evening (7th) it was nice to see our first Whimbrel of the spring with ten Curlew just north of Coronation Corner, and this morning a flock of 18 Dunlin were zooming around at high-tide not knowing where to land.  Hopefully Kentish Plover is next :-)

Axe Estuary at dusk

With the strong winds at the end of last week I gave sea watching a go on Friday 5th.  The direction and strength of the wind however meant shelter was very hard to find on the sea front, so twenty minutes late I gave up and checked elsewhere.  Still, in that time two Pale-bellied Brent Geese flew west and a Manx Shearwater flew east - my first of the year for both.

My passerine highlight of the last few days surprisingly wasn't a migrant species, but a Dipper.  They've been really reliable on our section of the River Coly this year, and yesterday I was delighted to stumble upon an active nest - not where I was expecting to find one either.  I gave them the space they deserved and was rewarded with prolonged views of an adult Dipper plunge-diving. So lucky to be able to watch this on my patch.  

There are more hirundines about now, although I am still yet to see a House Martin.  Sand Martins were well represented during the grim weather of last week, with just under 100 in the valley on 3rd, with small numbers of Swallows seen pretty much every day now.  Willow Warblers are now starting to pass through in decent numbers, tonight I watched six feeding in an isolated clump of Blackthorn in the valley even as the sun was setting. Amazing to think that by the morning they will probably be hundreds of miles away!

A well defined setting sun over Colyford

I saw my first Red Kite of the season from work yesterday morning (7th) thanks to Phil. He had seen it fly east over Beer Head and I happened to be outside when it carried on east over Sheep's Marsh and the Estuary. I wonder how many more (hundreds!?) I will see as the year progresses.

And I will end this somewhat disjointed post with my absolute highlight of April so far. During a morning outing to Black Hole Marsh with Harry on 6th I was suddenly aware of the charming calls of Med Gull.  Two second-summers were flying around calling to each other low over the marsh before landing on one of the islands, both with pretty much full hoods.  An amazing sight and sound, and proof to anyone that gulls are anything but boring!

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