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.
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.
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
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.
|Common Gull with a knackered leg