Wednesday 14 April 2021

Weekend Surveys

I spent most of time on the patch last weekend doing surveys. 

On Saturday I did my second territory mapping visit, it was a few days late but the run of cold, wintery weather has meant that nothing much has arrived and breeding attempts are on hold. Despite it being a warmer and sunnier morning of later, there was less activity than on my first visit - certainly for the dune species like Meadow Pipits and Reed Buntings.

Stunning morning

The only 'new arrival' was a Grasshopper Warbler which was in the small isolated bush by the Blockhouse. As I watched it, it began to reel, half-heartedly at first before putting some ooomf into it. 

Gropper - New in

Chiffchaffs were still vocal as was a Song Thrush that sung all morning. An interesting breeding record is a pair of Long-tailed Tits nest-building along the path to the hides, near to the timber screen. Lotti's are a very scarce breeder on the patch and it might be ten years or more since they last bred. 

One of many Chiffs
One of the breeding Lotti's

Wintering birds are still present however with 45 Twite flying over in three groups. Of note on the Budge fields were 9 Avocet, two Ruff and two Black-tailed Godwits. 

Swallow passage was light but noticeable and there were plenty of feeding Sand Martins over the Big Pool where a pair of Great-crested Grebes were displaying.

Fly-over Shelduck

On Sunday morning I awoke to a light covering of snow (11th April!!). Janet and I set off to do the WeBS count, it was bright but cold, feeling like -5 degrees not 5 degrees. There was plenty to count on the Budge fields with 66 Wigeon and 62 Teal still present. As I scanned, counting Wigeon,  a gull with yellow-legs caught my eye, not a Lesser Black-backed Gull (there were three of them further over playing with a goose egg) - this was a Herring-type gull but with strikingly yellow legs, not just a slight creaminess about them - yellow! The mantle was one or two shades darker than the adjacent Herring Gulls, it moved into deeper water and was head-on so no more detail on shape was to be had. Whilst I assembled my digi-scoping kit, Janet watched it until an incoming Canada Goose flushed it and it flew off, strongly in the direction of Warkworth Lane - we'll never know. Interestingly Dave Dack had a 'possible' adult Yellow-legged Gull later that day at Bell's Pond. 

Waders included a single Little Ringed Plover, four Black-tailed Godwit, four Ruff and two Avocet. Snipe numbers were up to 11. A single White Wagtail was also present. 

On the way home, we stopped to admire the Lapland Bunting and Shorelark at Hemscotthill. 

Digi-scoped Lapland Bunting
Digi-scoped Shorelark

In the evening I had an hours seawatch. It was cold and quiet. Three Sandwich terns feeding offshore were my first for the patch this year. 

A pair of passing Red-breasted Mergansers

Adult Herring Gull 

Common Gull with a knackered leg

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