Wednesday, 22 April 2020

A Flurry of Spring Ticks

Thought it was about time I gave you all a lockdown house list update.  And as expected there's been a nice flurry of ticks over the past few days.

My lockdown house list now stands at 79, and the recent additions include a whopping three full fat house ticks. Seriously impressive considering I've lived here for over seven years, and it just shows what a little extra effort can achieve. I'll start with today, which ended in the most exciting way...

At 4pm today I was stunned to hear a Grasshopper Warbler reeling briefly whilst in my back garden, twice, which was handy as that confirmed nicely I wasn't hearing things.  The first record for the house and another spring migrant I was fully expecting not to connect with this year.

After these two short bursts of reeling, I remained in the garden for the next half hour, and sporadically popped out there until 6.30pm, but there was no further sound of it.  Being a Gropper though, I was hopeful it may start up again later in the evening, and at 8.20pm it did just that.  As soon as I heard it again from the garden I nipped out the front door and jumped into the field next to my house.

Although it never showed, I was treated to the most vocal migrant Gropper I have ever come across. It was still going strong beyond 9pm, and the experience got even better when a Barn Owl began quartering the field I was crouched in! Just amazing. Aren't birds brilliant.

Today was a gloriously sunny day, like most of the previous lockdown days. And like all the other sunny days I've spent most of it in the garden... which of course means I've been looking up!  The skies have been busy too, with the highlight being my first Hobby of the year over low east early afternoon.  There's been plenty of raptors up all day, with numerous Common Buzzards as usual, five different Sparrowhawks (two displaying), two Kestrels (one displaying), and the day started in fine form with two Peregrines tussling and calling to each other low overhead when I first opened the back doors this morning.  I am so so lucky to live where I do.



Common Buzzard

The Hobby represented the eighth species of raptor recorded from my house during lockdown. A ninth will be a good one whatever it is...

Also today Whimbrel was added to the lockdown house list, about time as they've been on the Axe in varying numbers for a week or two now.

Yesterday produced a nil result, but Monday gave another house first!  During a window watch over the valley in the evening, just as I was trying to work out what the large plover-sized wader was that I was watching flying north over Black Hole Marsh, it banked around revealing black wing-pits.  Grey Plover is a good Axe bird, and it reminded me that the previous evening whilst stood in the back garden, amongst a burst of Redshank calls I thought I heard Grey Plover call once but couldn't be sure.

Sunday finally rewarded me for my daily scoping of the only bit of Axe Cliff Golf Course I can see from my back garden, which is over a mile away...

Maybe distant and small, but potential is there...

When I posted the below photo on Twitter it opened the flood gates to a flurry of sarcastic remarks - as to be expected.  But it depicts one of the reasons I have been scoping this far away golf green so often, for a Red-legged Partridge!  There were actually two of them on view just before I grabbed this shockingly poor (come on it's over a mile away and taken with my mobile!) photo...

No it's not a rabbit!  

Red-legged Partridge was a full fat house tick.  But it didn't end there for my lockdown ticks, as this scope view on Sunday also gave me Yellowhammer (thankfully a bright male - otherwise it would have been unidentifiable) and Skylark.

Saturday morning began with a Willow Warbler singing from trees next to the back garden.  A species that hasn't been in anyway numerous this spring. The crystal clear mornings aren't conducive to dropping migrants - and Saturday morning was practically the first cloudy and damp morning that we've had all April!

And that brings me all up to date.

What a thrilling post this was to write, one that is positively bursting with decent birds.  And I didn't leave home once.  Lockdown listing isn't just great fun, but it's making me appreciate far more, and look closer at, the vast array of wildlife that's not just on my doorstep, but can quite literally be seen from it.

1 comment:

  1. Love this. Keeps alive the memory of the lovely Axe Estuary, which I cannot visit at the momen, because of Coronavirus.