As I sit here at my computer on Bank Holiday Monday, looking out of the window, it is decidedly dreich, so the perfect opportunity to look back on three different days from Friday - Sunday.
Friday morning, I was back at my wintering bird survey site with some freshwater marsh, but this time it was to complete the first of three breeding bird surveys (BBS). It was a calm, overcast morning, and when I got to the site at 6:00 a.m. there was a ground frost! However, as soon as the sun moved in-between the marsh and the sky, the frost disappeared.
I thought I might have had a few more warbler species this morning, but in the end my BBS maps just showed two singing Blackcaps and four singing Sedge Warblers. The Sedge Warblers reflecting the area of wetland habitat of course. Reed Buntings were expected, and recorded, with 2-3 pairs on the marsh.
I added another summer migrant to my (invisible) list of new arrivals in the form of a single House Martin, and two Tree Sparrows were along the last hedge that I surveyed.
I just wanted to mention that I have at least two Hedgehogs coming into my garden nightly, and they are eating all the dried cat food that we leave out for them. In return, they leave several 'deposits' in and around the feeding station as a thank you! We wouldn't have it any other way.
On Saturday morning, Alice and I tried our look in the Willow scrub at the pools again. The water levels had dropped once more, and instead of just managing to put 60 feet of net up, we managed to get 100 feet up. Did we manage to ring many more birds with this increase in netting? Barely!
At first light we had clear skies, and it was calm, so apart from the clear skies it was perfect for ringing. As I hinted at before, we didn't have a brilliant ringing session and only ringed three birds; one each of Lesser Redpoll, Reed Warbler and Reed Bunting. Just one recapture, and that was a Reed Warbler, so it was a morning of quality, rather than quantity.
As we were putting the nest up, we did so to a background of calling/singing birds that included, two Cetti's Warblers, two Sedge Warblers, three Whitethroats, a Blackcap and a Whimbrel that called from somewhere on the scrape.
The only 'vis' that we had was a light passage of Swallows and Sand Martins north, that numbered 14 and 4 respectively. As always, there was probably more than this, but when you are disappearing into the reeds at regular intervals to check the nets, you miss quite a bit of what's going over.
Between net rounds, a very confiding Song Thrush was feeding round our parked cars. I think what was attracting him/her, was the short sward created in the area we park our cars, so it was easy to forage for invertebrates. On several occasions he/she flew off carrying food towards the marina.
Yesterday morning I headed to the coastal farm fields, and when I arrived at 5.45 a.m. the weather wasn't too bad. I had about 7 oktas cloud cover, with a light south-easterly wind. After a couple of hours, the skies blackened, the wind increased to a blustery westerly, and I had both hail and rain!
As I was pulling on my Muck Boots at the back of my car, I could hear Pink-footed Geese calling fairly loudly, and I looked up to see a skein of 130 heading north. They are starting to get a bit late now. That was the first bit of vis that I had, and there were a few other species on the move including two Linnets, three Rooks (where were they going), 18 Black-headed Gulls, a Lesser Redpoll, a Tree Pipit, 22 Swallows, a White Wagtail and four Goldfinches. Out of the 22 Swallows that I recorded, nine of these I picked up with my telescope heading north out at sea. Migration in action.
The sea delivered the usual suspects, but in low numbers, and with some species missing (no Skuas for example), and my totals included 9 males & 2 female Eiders, 21 Sandwich Terns, two Cormorants, 72 Common Scoters, two Red-throated Divers, six Gannets, six Red-breasted Mergansers and an Auk sp. I also had an Atlantic Grey Seal that was taking its time to devour a large fish!
At 7:20 a.m. three Whimbrels dropped on to the foreshore, and fed alongside a tidal pool, before calling it a day ten minutes later, and continuing their northwards journey. I had a walk round the farm fields after the sea quietened down, or became even quieter than when I started looking, and all I could add to my notebook was three singing Sedge Warblers, a singing Skylark, a singing, or should that be a 'rattling' Lesser Whitethroat and a 'reeling' Grasshopper Warbler.
Two of the three Whimbrel that dropped in (above), and the three leaving
I called in at the cemetery on my way home, no migrants as such other than the Swallows that nest in the chapel, but a juvenile Mistle Thrush looked funky and punky, with bits of sticking out down here and there. It was time to return home for a coffee.
It's still dreich as I look out of the window again, and it's forecast to be dreich tomorrow, but that means that I'll be able to have a few pints of real ale this evening!