Saturday, 20 April 2013

March reviews

Colin Bushell, Hesketh Out Marsh


Spring? More like winter without the birds. Hen Harrier still around (always nice) and White-fronted Geese (adults, one of each - Euro and Greenland) still knocking about with dwindling numbers of Pink-footed Geese. The Eiders have moved into the estuary though so it was good to see a pair on 28th actually on the marsh at high tide (they don't usually venture in from the Ribble). Avocets have arrived (up to a dozen by the month's end) but the first Wheatears waited until the eleventh hour - three on 31st. Stonechat (less than annual at Hesketh OM) and Marsh Harrier 'in-off' the same day were signs of a bit of movement I suppose.

So no Sand Martins and not a sniff of a Chiffchaff. At least the local Great Spotted Woodpecker thinks it's spring (drumming in the shooting copse).

Kev Rylands, Dawlish Warren

Aside from Black-throated Diver February was a damp squib, I even twitched a Gadwall! March was also shaping up the same way but midmonth a Red-necked Grebe restored some hope and the first Wheatear also lifts the spirits. Despite the lack of snow the failure of spring to arrive has also been felt in south Devon, the constant easterlies did however bring in a smart adult Little Gull but otherwise the sea has been consistently poor. 
Common migrants on the Warren have been limited to Wheatear, a single Sand Martin and Chiffchaff with many of the later struggling in the cold. However the lack of Swallows and Willow Warblers were easily forgotten with an early Osprey and even better a self foundStone Curlew, a great patch tick (my second of 2013) and the first TN on the Warren in 26 years! The only downside was that it was only worth the same as a Sandwich Tern - insanity! A Greylag Goose a couple of days later brought patch listing back into focus - not a species I see every year. So  a good month despite missing the Ring Ouzels and Black Redstarts everywhere else on the southwest coast.
April has started with a bang, with my first Warren Hoopoe for 20 years and spring is not even here yet...

Andy Johnson, Sandy point

March is always hard work – hoping for migrants that seem to take forever to arrive. Some spring-like weather early in the month produced some decent patch birds, including woodlark, rock pipit, stonechat, greylag goose and tufted duck (the latter two annual here, but unpredictable). However, the return to wintry weather for the rest of the month made for very thin pickings. The first wheatear arrived a week later than normal, on 22nd, although an arctic skua on 26th was my earliest here by three weeks, and a pair of velvet scoter flew east the same day. The best came during the evening of 27th: as it was getting dark an unexpected long-eared owl flew past me in the reserve, its presence causing a hitherto unseen drake garganey to start calling, which then swam out to the middle of a small flooded area before flying off north. Two fantastic patch birds providing one of those moments that make it all seem worthwhile!
Month end total: 116 species, 154 points.

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