Wednesday 24 March 2021

Bunting Bonus

A late morning visit to the patch today after my morning chores were complete. The light was awful for checking the Budge fields so I wandered north to check the dunes where the cows graze for Wheatears - this is always the place I see my first of the year. A Chiffchaff was singing in the bushes. 

Greylag pair from the timber screen

As I reached the coal road,  I nearly walked past a small flock of birds feeding quietly by the water trough, it was the movement that caught my eye as they were otherwise well camouflaged against the dry stems and mud. Twite, mostly, and five or six Skylark. As I scanned left, I came across a chunky, Skylark-sized bird, it was facing away from me but the mantle was obviously much darker and more obviously streaked than the Skylarks it was with. I fancied it was Lapland Bunting because of the size and bulk and the pale tips to the coverts. I watched it feeding for a few moments before it turned its head, to show a brown cheek with the black collar swooshing round to the the eye. Otherwise it wasn't well marked, likely a first-winter female. It was in range for a record-shot but when I lifted my camera it wasn't in the viewfinder. The whole flock had been spooked and took flight, they circled around behind me over the coal road, the Twite and Skylarks came back in but no sign of the Lap. I spent 45 minutes or so trying to relocate with no joy. 

A lap of the dunes looking for the Lap (taken from my eBird log)

No Wheatears but definitely a Brucey Bonus with the Bunting. This was only my second Spring Lapland Bunting on the patch - the only other was back in April 2010! As I searched for the Lap, two Sand Martins flew north overhead - new for the year. 21 Whooper Swans were in the fields beyond the coal road and another 10 were in the front field at Druridge Farm when I drove home.

I crept up on this skylark which was crouched down, camouflaged in the dunes

Another Skylark
Some of the Twite - also well camouflaged!

Stock dove - a bird I've never managed to photograph in flight on the patch before - this could've been better if I'd had time to change the shutter speed. Nice light on the iridescent green neck patch I thought?

Who's this tiny fella lurking in a cracked fencepost?

Zebra Jumping Spider

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