Friday 19 May 2023

May Must Have More?

Following what can only be described as the best March/April on patch for years, certainly the last five but possibly of the last decade, May has been completely pants.  

Black Hole Marsh at dusk earlier this week

Some of the common (ish) summer migrants that you would hope to pick up in this month, like Garden Warbler, Tree Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Cuckoo, Pied and Spotted Flycatcher, Hobby, maybe if you're lucky Turtle Dove, are all still gaps on my Patchwork Challenge 2023 year list!  And as for the sea... we had a whiff of southerlies earlier in the month but they didn't do much here - although I did miss a Bonxie one morning which was annoying to say the least!  

And where are the wading birds?

May is by a country mile my favourite month of the year for wader passage, when flocks of Sanderling, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit and Whimbrel can be seen on/off the beach or up the Estuary, as well as a good chance of local scarcities such as Knot, Turnstone, Grey Plover, etc..  Often all in fine summer plumage too!  However as yet it just hasn't happened, and I have tried! On the few wet days we have had, my lonesome and dripping wet figure could be seen walking Seaton Beach.   The lack of southerlies am sure is part of the reason, but hopefully they are all still on their wintering grounds or further south at least.  I remember in 2018 when I went to Portugal in early June much to my surprise there were massive numbers of small waders still feeding on the Tagus Estuary..

So since the 4th (which gave Pochard and Wood Sand) I have only had two more year ticks!  Shocking for May, although to be fair both of them were really nice...

On 10th, Mike H and Stuart O had a Short-eared Owl hunting near Black Hole Marsh an hour before dusk.  I nipped down there, couldn't see anything for about half an hour, but then whilst stood halfway up a gate scanning distant fields to the north, I looked around and the Short-eared Owl was hunting literally right infront (well behind!) me!  It saw me then hastily made its way down the hill and out of view.  I just about managed to hold my phone up and get some sort of video but it is so poor I won't even bother posting it on here.

Then today, having just seen a couple of lone Dunlin and Ringed Plover, two Greenshank and a single Bar-tailed Godwit over the last two weeks, finally we had a wader highlight. A visiting birder found an adult breeding plumaged Little Stint on Black Hole Marsh...

What a stunner!

Similar to what I wrote about the Wood Sands earlier this month, Little Stint has appeared to have become much scarcer here over the last few autumns, and spring birds are really really few and far between, so I was dead chuffed to see this!

Looking at the forecast, I haven't much hope for the rest of May.  However as is so often said it only takes one bird...  

No comments:

Post a Comment