Thursday, 7 May 2015

Summer arrives

A warm sunny day after some nasty weather meant I had to get out. My target was one of the warblers I'd not yet seen, the sedge warbler - and anything else likely on the local patch (swift, common sandpiper, etc).

I stopped off at a pond where a reed warbler had been reported as 'showing well' - and so it was. I got good views, and saw some adorable coot chicks to boot. Then to the first wetland proper, and immediately a singing cetti's warbler waylaid me. This male is a little way from the main local population and seems easier to catch a glimpse of - but he didn't come out. However, immediately in front of me a pair of birds flitted through the reeds - and they were sedgies! One came out, then flew a little way off, then came back and gave my best views ever.

Elsewhere, a male reed bunting, lots of breathtakingly low-swooping swallows, starlings, a whitethroat, blackcaps, and greenfinches filled the apple blossom-scented air with their songs. What a great day to be out - and swinging by the other pond on the way back (I didn't need to go further), I got my best ever views of the reed warbler too.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Birds of April

A male common scoter followed on from the female seen at the local reserve the month before.

 Above: common residents showing unusually well, a greenfinch and a treecreeper.
Below: commoner mid-spring arrivals, willow warbler and whitethroat.

The spring migration built up quickly in the first half of this month. It's been fascinating to follow some of the more southern bird observatories on Twitter, and then see the species they ringed appear in the local bird sightings a few days later. The usual suspects, and in the usual order - after the chiffchaffs started filtering in at the end of March came willow warblers, blackcaps, reed and grasshopper warblers, and a few less regular species that continued through northwards (such as ring ouzels and redstarts). Overhead a similar progression - sand martins, then swallows and house martins. A surge of warmth just after Easter brought out a mass of invertebrates - many butterflies, moths, bees, flies and hoverflies, ants and wasps. Aside from feeling summery, it's the main reason all those incoming birds are here.

 Above: redstart, pied flycatcher, and a feisty wood warbler - a trio of lovelies.

The weather has been much colder since then, but the birds kept coming. A rash of rarities in the local park boosted my list, and a couple of day trips to hotspots further afield brought some success. I couldn't possibly choose a bird of the month - while the pied-billed grebe is by far the rarest, it was totally unexpected, while garden warbler, redstart, raven etc. are birds I have been after for ages.

Above: a marsh harrier, one of Leighton Moss's specialities, and a much rarer (and exceptionally distant!) pied-billed grebe - the only one in the country.

April 2015
19 species (7 lifers) - year total 130
Garden warbler
Grasshopper warbler
Lesser whitethroat
Marsh harrier
Pied-billed grebe
Pied flycatcher
Reed warbler
Ringed plover
Sand martin
Willow warbler
Wood warbler