After a great sunny day at Bexhill-on-sea yesterday, I got home and spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in the garden lapping up the late sunshine, as I sat sipping my tea, what did I hear ? yep you guessed ...CUCKOO (89) calling from it's traditional territory over at the lakeside scrub area. Its arrival is one day later than the mean arrival date, a big welcome back to him!
Overnight the weather changed, and my patch visit took place in dull, overcast conditions, with a light but persistant rain. From the off, the CUCKOO could be heard, and it called all morning. Other birds were less forthcoming with their songs, but BLACKCAP and CHIFFCHAFF were on the list early on, as they sang from the large gardens along ashes lane. The wildbird crop was empty of Yellowhammer and Reed bunting, I expect the food is all but finished now, at the smallholding, a flurry of activity was noted by the more common resident birds, GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS, CHAFFINCH, GREENFINCH, GOLDFINCH, BLUE TIT and GREAT TIT were all in the blossoming pear trees, and MISTLE THRUSH, MALLARD and MOORHEN were on the grass below.
The wet woods were dark and damp, and most unwelcoming, and it wasn't surprising to walk through and not put anything new onto my list, the next bird was in fact a LONG TAILED TIT which was in the vacinity of its nest, between the woods and lake. The Cuckoo call was getting louder, and as I reached the lake and adjacent scrub area, I located it at the top of an ash, it caught my movement and flew off to an oak tree in the tree nursery. Nowt but a single Mallard and the pair of CANADA GEESE were on the lake, but as I watched, a lone GREY LAG GOOSE came splashing in, it was immediately seen off by the canada goose! I spent 15 minutes listening out by the scrub area, just in case the Nightingales had returned, but none was heard. More Blackcap and Chiffchaff song was heard, along with the resident DUNNOCK, WREN, ROBIN, SONGTHRUSH, MISTLE THRUSH and a calling NUTHATCH.
I crossed the tree nursery, and saw the Cuckoo again, calling from the oak tree, it flew off again, a short distance to a small group of sycamore trees, where it had trouble balancing on the topmost twigs. In the part of the nursery that had tree's and shrubs in, 3 pairs of LINNETS flew about, and two pairs of SWALLOWS zoomed around overhead, it was them that alerted me to a SPARROWHAWK that flew over low, heading for the greenhouse complex, no doubt to try and grab one of the PIED WAGTAILS that were on the apex of one of the buidings there. There was a second WHITETHROAT in the hedgerow, bounding the tree nursery, and as I listened to it singing, a PHEASANT flew up in front of me, giving me a heart attack!
I always look forward to going to Migrant Alley at migration times, I never know what might be there, today it was a flyover YELLOW WAGTAIL (90), It alerted me to its presence by its familiar call. This is a scarce migrant on my patch, and its only the 3rd year that I have recorded it in the springtime, this was the earliest one yet. Other birds on the plough and paddocks included, more Swallows, pied Wagtails, two LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS, a flyover of 9 HERRING GULLS and the usual mix of Corvids.
The College grounds and the adjacent stream were heavily disturbed, by groundsmen, and a housing plot that is going up just off my patch, and didn't produce anything of note, the odd COAL TIT and GOLDCREST was heard. I really need to be here earlier to see anything!
A total of 45 birds were recorded, in the 3 hour visit this morning, and another 2 hour visit around the paddocks, sheep pasture, and plough, at migrant alley produce two more, a YELLOWHAMMER and 3 LAPWING that flew over. A Hobby was reported to me while I was there, just to the west of my patch, but it didn't find its way over to me.
Yet again the weather prevented any useable photo's being taken, very frustrating, as I wanted to photograph the Cuckoo.