Thursday, April 9, 2009

Patch list challenge update

The year list challenge continues. Mike Passman sent this latest bulletin from his Devon patch Thurlestone Bay, for the period March 12th-31st. He writes:

“As expected, some very good records while some days were very quiet, probably due to a spell of very settled weather.

“Saturday, March 14 produced the first WHEATEAR (121), a very nice male, while five RAVEN flew through with 20 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS on South Huish Marsh - signs of the start of spring migration.

“Monday, March 16 was a very sunny day with no wind and few birds in the Bay except for a very nice GLAUCOUS GULL (122), my first site record for this rare gull in the south-west. Tuesday, March 17 really did confirm spring was in the air – walking round the coast path, two SWALLOWS (123) flew past within six feet, and three SAND MARTINS were on the marsh. A late afternoon visit to South Huish Marsh found a pair of GARGANEY (124) tucked into one of the banks fast asleep. Wednesday, March 18 brought two female BLACK REDSTARTS and two male WHEATEARS, and the next day, there was the largest spring count of WHEATEARS – 15 in the field by South Huish Marsh, along with a single SAND MARTIN, whilst a female PEREGRINE caused consternation.

“Friday, March 20 produced the first SANDWICH TERN (125), with two arriving in the bay during the morning. Five COMMON SCOTER flew east, with a single BLACK-THROATED DIVER on the sea. Nothing of any significance passed through until Wednesday, March 25, with two new additions – the first TREE PIPIT (126) arrived off the sea and landed for a brief rest with a female BRAMBLING (127) by South Milton Ley. At high tide, six TURNSTONE, a DUNLIN and a PURPLE SANDPIPER were in the bay.

“Friday, March 27 produced the next addition to the year list – three GREY PLOVER (128) flew NE over South Milton Ley, whilst both BLACK AND RED-THROATED DIVER were together on the bay at high tide. Sunday, March 29 produced five SANDWICH TERNS together on the rocks in the Bay, while on Thurlestone Marsh a male GARGANEY was found together with a male SHOVELER (first for several weeks). The roost on the marsh produced nine SAND MARTINS and six SWALLOWS, with a late TAWNY OWL flying through my garden.

“Monday, March 30, saw, surprisingly, the drake GARGANEY still on Thurlestone Marsh, while a visit to the pumping station at South Milton Ley produced two WILLOW WARBLERS (129), with a highlight being a singing SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF – interesting to compare its song to the regular CHIFFCHAFF.

“Tuesday, March 31 brought a cloudy early morning and a slight east wind, which can be promising. Twenty-five SAND MARTINS and 10 SWALLOWS were over Thurlestone Ley at 8am while South Huish Marsh, at 10am, had a flock of 80 SAND MARTINS and 20 SWALLOWS with at least one HOUSE MARTIN (130) amongst them. Seawatching in the bay produced a few auks passing through, with one PUFFIN (131) close in.

“A very good end to what has been a very interesting start to the year – a total of 131 species for the local patch is certainly ahead of what I expected. April and May can only increase my expectations.”

Meanwhile, in the Midlands, landlocked features editor Matt Merritt is struggling to play catch-up. He writes:

“The first couple of weeks of March were a write-off, as I was out of the country, but our geographical position means that we rarely get any really early migrants.

“Attempting to make up for lost time, I caught up with a BLACK-NECKED GREBE at Swithland Reservoir on the 27th. I’ve seen them often in autumn, but to get one in full breeding plumage was a real treat.

“Walking round Cossington Meadows after work on the 30th, I got my first singing BLACKCAP, two LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS, and a really fine male WHEATEAR, three enjoyable if predictable ticks. I then started April with my first SWALLOWS, at Thornton Reservoir, and followed it on the 4th with a flock of LINNETS at Charnwood Lodge. They’ve been strangely elusive lately, so it was good to see them back. At the same site, a pair of MANDARIN were sitting on the little stream, and flew away into the heart of the woods, suggesting possible breeding.

“The next day, back over the Derbyshire border at Foremark Reservoir, I caught up with a female RED-BREASTED MERGANSER (very rare round my way), then added SAND MARTIN and WATER RAIL at my local reserve, Kelham Bridge (I’ve heard the latter umpteen times already this year, but I don’t count that).

“So, the running total stands at 104. I missed a RING OUZEL at Charnwood Lodge by minutes, but there’s time to put that right, and I’ve looked for LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKERS everywhere but the obvious site, Swithland Reservoir. Having failed miserably, I’m swallowing my pride, giving up all hope of actually finding one for myself, and going looking for the old regulars.”


Callum said...

Great article! Can anyone help me to identify a species of bird that keeps appearing on my inner-city London balcony? It's the bird in the second picture:

Bird houses said...

great post

Mike Weedon said...

Thanks for the kind comments.

Apologies for the delay, Callum. It's a Greenfinch. The population seems to have declined rather in the last few years, so it's a nice bird to get coming to a windowsill.