Sunday 24 March 2019

First migrants - but some good birds missed

This weekend saw my first visits to the patch this month.

It was nice to catch up with ADMc on Friday morning at the Budge screen, it was sunny and quite warm and felt like spring. Seven ruff  at the back of the field were newly arrived and spanking male wheatear was out on the grass in front of us. 15 Black-tailed godwits, 3 dunlin and over 90 curlew were notable.

In the bushes near the big pool, I disturbed a water rail and my first 'patch' chiffchaff was calling.

On Saturday evening, Janet and I had a wander through the dunes to the north of the Dunbar burn. In the bushes before we set off north, six reed buntings were feeding on willow catkins. No sign of the red kite that had been seen earlier on the patch  - a species that still eludes me.

In the dunes there was a mixed flock of finches and buntings which included about 12 twite, six reed buntings, eight chaffinch and 18 linnet with some goldfinches. The grey partridges have split up form their large coveys now and are now paired up. A pair of stonechats were perched up near the Dunbar burn - the male singing sweetly in the afternoon sunshine.

In the fields beyond the haul road there were at least 40 lapwing with many displaying birds. Several juveniles fledged successfully from this field last year so, being site faithful, they've come back. beyond them, in the fields a bit further away, were about 110 swans - there were certainly both mute and whooper in the herds but with only bins, it was impossible to say how many of each. We stopped by the Budge screen on the way home and watched a pair of pintail on the Budge pools.

Today was WeBS count day, I didn't do the count until late afternoon as we were out this morning doing a willow tit survey for RSPB. Our tetrad was west of Ellington, taking in the Linton Burn and Warkworth Lane Ponds and we were amazed to find two pairs of willow tits.

Whilst we were out reports came through of a glaucous gull and great egret on the Budge fields. I've not seen a glaucous gull on the patch for over 10 years so I would have loved to have seen that - it didn't hang around and was tracked up the coast. The pain of a patch birder...

There were no waders on the Budge fields at all. There are still decent counts of wigeon (119) and teal (92). The pintail pair were still present and a count of 47 shoveler was impressive. Two pair of red-breasted merganser looked smart on the big pool and a pair of great crested grebes look settled.

Now migration has kicked-off I'm going to adjust my work-life balance and get down to the patch a bit more often!

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