Tuesday, 2 May 2017

May Bank Holiday Weekend

Whinchat (c) Bark

The prevailing winds changed over the weekend and in doing so brought in a number of interesting and exciting migrants that, but for the rain and low cloud, would have moved on over without touching down.
Noke Wheatear (c) Bark
Another (c) Nick Truby
The change came during Saturday night and into Sunday, so whilst on Saturday there were no passage migrants to be seen on the reserve by Sunday, there was much more to be found. Amongst the new birds in was the bird of the weekend; a Temminck’s Stint. As well as the Stint, there was a Sanderling, four Ringed Plovers, two Little Ringed plovers, two Whimbrel and at least four Dunlin. The first Green Sandpiper of the year was seen on Greenaways and a Common Sandpiper on the nearest Big Otmoor scrapes.
Temminck's Stint (c) Nick Truby

The Temminck’s was reported on Rare Bird Alert on Sunday afternoon, and so we don’t know who first found it, but later several county birders got down there in the early evening and both refound and videoed it, as it crept about mouse like on the muddy edges of the Big Otmoor pools. It stayed overnight and I saw it yesterday afternoon. It is extraordinary to realise just how tiny this bird is. It disappeared frequently among the sedges but its diminutive size was most noticeable when it came near to Redshanks or Lapwings. It was often chased or flushed by a Redshank that may have had a nearby nest or perhaps just found it irritating! It has a very distinctive way of feeding crouched low and creeping around.

Temminck's Stint courtesy of Vicky Wren

On Sunday morning, we noticed a marked increase in the number of Common Whitethroats both in the carpark field and along the bridle way, which suggested an overnight influx.

Common Whitethroat (c) Bark
On radio four the BBC are doing a dawn chorus programme, now is certainly the best time to get out and hear it, by the end of this month the sounds will have diminished and birds will be too busy raising young to spend too much time and energy singing.
Sedgie (c) JR
There were large parties of mixed Hirundines passing through all weekend. They were concentrated over the reedbed where there had been a hatch of small flies or gnats that seemed very much to their liking. We also saw our first Swifts of the year scything through the air above the water, taking advantage of the abundant invertebrates.

Cuckoos (c) JR

Up to three different Cuckoos were present chasing each other, their streamlined shapes making them look for all the world like small raptors. They may be males that are seeking to hold territory, as we are yet to hear the females distinctive chuckling call.
There are now more Hobbies on the moor and as we have come to expect, just like teenage boys, they do not get up and going until after eleven in the morning!
Common Tern back on he northern lagoon (c) JR
There are Grey Herons making feeding flights on and off the reserve, the spiky crested heads of their progeny can now be seen above the reeds and sticking up over the edge of the nests in the dead oak tree on Ashgrave. Several Bitterns have been seen and there is still some booming to be head very early in the morning. Little Egrets are once again present in good numbers; we saw at least seven flying over the flood Field on Saturday morning.

Whinchat (c) Bark

There were more Wheatears around the farm and the short grass, sheep fields at Noke and a couple of others were seen out hunting from posts on Greenaways. A stunning male Whinchat was on the fence beside the path to the first screen. For once the light was coming from the right direction and the bird did not seem inhibited by our presence. There was also Grasshopper Warbler in the same area but unlike last week it was not easy to see or pin down. It is interesting to note that various species have precise favourite spots in which to set up a territory.
Garden Warbler (c) Bark
As an example, there always seems to be a Garden Warbler about two hundred metres past the pump house along the bridleway. It is unlikely to be the same individual year after year; I assume they are not long lived. Might it be a bird returning to the area in which it fledged? Why that part of the hedge and not a seemingly identical area just fifty metres away? Answers on a postcard please………
We are still waiting on the return of the Turtle Dove it’s still not too late but if we are still waiting this time next week then I will really be getting anxious. Fingers crossed!
Canada Geese and goslings (c) JR

Turtle dove along the bridle way even as I wrote the above, Great news
Back once again (c) Tom N-L

1 comment:

  1. The migrated birds look unusual yet beautiful. I hope they food appropriate housing. I wish I could keep one of these with me. I have a wonderful collection of birds.