The persistent cold north/north easterly winds recently have really slowed down spring migration this year, but understandably so. We've had more night time frosts in April than we have had throughout the whole of the winter!
It's always hard to truly gauge the progress of a spring nationally by the number of passage migrants seen on a coastal patch, simply because there are just so many variables that determine how many migrants are grounded. But I can see that many local breeding summer migrant species are present in much lower numbers than you'd expect by now, like Whitethroats, Reed Warblers, Sedge Warblers and Swallows. I've not seen/heard one Lesser Whitethroat yet, and Reed Warblers arrived a whole ten days later than last year into the narrow strip of reeds up to the Tower Hide on Black Hole Marsh! A very strange spring really.
Most mornings during the last few weeks have looked exactly how Axe Cliff looked a couple of days ago...
|Clear skies, frost on the ground, and although you can't tell in this pic... a bloody cold wind!|
Seeing as the above photo is from 20th, I'll start with what birds I saw during that wander...three firsts of the year in fact! A cracking male Redstart, an invisible but much appreciated reeling Grasshopper Warbler and a couple of Common Whitethroats. Also noted were three Wheatear and a Willow Warbler, as well as good numbers of the usual residents like Skylarks, Linnets and Yellowhammers.
|One day one of these will be a Cirl Bunting!|
I went back up to Axe Cliff today, much quieter for migrants with just one Wheatear and one Willow Warbler. Four Common Whitethroats on territory now though (still well short of usual numbers).
|The Wheatears are getting bigger and more upright by the day! Suggesting more northern breeders|
|The distant blob of a Whitethroat on the edge of the cliff|
|Same bird with a sea blue backdrop. Interestingly this was a male bird as it was singing, but looked very plain and female-like.|
Other notable passerine migrants I have seen since my last blog post include my first Yellow Wagtail of the year low north over Sheep's Marsh on 15th, and a cracking male White Wagtail on Bridge Marsh on 17th.
Our first Bar-tailed Godwit of the year appeared on the Axe on 19th, with thousands seen migrating along the English Channel in the days since. Always a delight to see in spring, even if this male still has some way to go before he is full on brick red...
A lone Barnacle Goose has joined our Canada Goose flock in recent days, probably not all that wild but it's always good to see something different. Sorry for my dreadful photo, taken at extreme distance and after sunset on the 21st...
|They really are tiny|
And to finish off this post, I am delighted to say the Glaucous Gull is still around, and this morning I enjoyed some excellent views of it as it bathed on the lower Axe Estuary. So I will sign off tonight in the best possible way, with a flurry of Glauc pics...