I chose today to do my BTO Breeding Bird Survey, so it wasn't until 08:30 that I started my own patch walk. It proved very productive, despite just a 3hour visit. The scrub area by the lakes was full of song, mostly BLACKCAP, they were in almost every clump of bushes! WHITETHROAT and LESSER WHITETHROAT sang, and the CUCKOO called constantly, however there was no sign of the awaited Turtle Dove.
I made my way over to Migrant Alley, through the tree nursery, where there were no less than 4 GREEN WOODPECKERS seen, and two more WHITETHROATS sang from the boundary hedge. At migrant alley a nice surprise was a superb male WHEATEAR, cheered me up no end! Whilst I tried to get some pics of it, a couple of SKYLARKS sang overhead.
By the time I got to the college grounds, my legs were tiring, it had been a long morning, so after picking up a few more of the remaining species not seen so far, which included flyover GREY HERON and CORMORANT, I sat on one of the benches and looked for some HOUSE MARTINS spinning in the blue, they were found within a minute, as was a SPARROWHAWK, then just a few minutes later a BUZZARD went over low, great stuff! But wait whats that sickle winged wonder ? Yes a SWIFT (92) ! Then another, what a brilliant 10 minutes. The Swifts had arrived 3 days earlier than the mean arrival date.
Refreshed by my avian adrenaline rush, I pushed on for home through Migrant Alley, I passed through the scrub at the north end, and hurrah! A TURTLE DOVE (93) ''purred'' from the dense growth, I hung around for a photo opportunity, but it wasn't happening, but as I waited not one, but 3 turtle doves chased out of the cover and back, fantastic sightings of this diminishing migrant, they had arrived just 2 days later than the mean arrival date.
On the final stretch of my walk a KESTREL was sitting on a telephone pole, the 51 species for the day. However......Once i'd had some food and drink, I was off out again to try to get a photo of the Wheatear, as it was too far away earlier. I found it again, after some searching, and this time I got within 30 yds of it, whilst it sat on a fence I got some nice pics. I had one final skywatch for half an hour, and was treated to 2 more low flying Buzzards, but what was more of a treat was watching each bird get seen of by a the 2 PEREGRINES!
Two more for the year list, and a day list of 52 can't be bad. Oh, and the highest April species total has just been set with 72 species, with 4 days still to go!
Below are a couple of the Wheatear photo's