I was up early this morning, anticipating the better weather conditions that were forecast for today, well I fell for it again, the forecast was a woeful attempt at meteorology, instead of dry and brightening conditions, it was cloudy windy and raining! Only late in the day did it brighten up.
Despite the inept met. office forecast, I had a very successful day, after a somewhat samey walk around the Small Holding, Wet Woods and Lake area. I recorded 32 species, the most noteworthy being some singing in the rain from the likes of
YELLOWHAMMER, SKYLARK, GOLDCREST, COAL TIT, and MISTLE THRUSH. NUTHATCH called and a CORMORANT flew over the lake area, which had just 12 CANADA GEESE, 7 MALLARD and 4 MOORHEN. I missed the Treecreeper today, but found the BULLFINCH in good numbers - 2 groups of 4 were in the lakeside scrub.
As I crossed the Tree Nursery on my way back for my half time drink, I found a
pair of REED BUNTING, only the second time this year I have seen this species, however, I went one better when I disturbed a SNIPE (67), a nice addition to my March list, it circled round and alighted back over at the Greenhouse Complex. Whilst on my 'halftime' break I looked at the garden feeders, and was pleased to see the BRAMBLING had returned.
The second half of my walk picked up a bit weatherwise, and also bird wise, another, or the same (?) Brambling was seen with a small flock of CHAFFINCH in the old Raspberry canes at the Greenhouse Complex, always nice to see one away from the garden, with them was another 4 Bullfinch. My first SONGTHRUSH of the day was heard to sing as I entered Migrant Alley,but more exciting was my first WHEATEAR (74,68) of the year, spied in one of the horse paddocks, a spanking looking male bird. Unfortunately, due to the poor weather, I left my camera at home for the second half of my walk!
I moved on to the college grounds, where a CHIFFCHAFF was heard singing, and yet another group of 4 Bullfinch were seen, two dozen REDWING were feeding on the lawned areas, but the only FIELDFARE seen today were flyovers. I had a quick look over the 'pub' field manure heap, which continues to be disappointing, with just 4 STOCK DOVE seen there, this field is only separated from Migrant Alley by Ashes Lane, so you would think something would turn up there!
Next stop was back at home to get my camera, then back out to Migrant Alley to re-locate the Wheatear, which I did, and took some photo's despite the poor light. I spent another 2 hours there, mostly skywatching, and turned up some more species for the day list: A GREY HERON, 2 GREY LAG GOOSE, 5 soaring COMMON BUZZARDS, 2 SPARROWHAWKS, 1 KESTREL, 2 MEADOW PIPIT, and an unidentified large raptor that flew over a kilometer to the south-east of my patch, moving south west - it may well of been a Marsh harrier, but I couldn't be 100% sure.
51 species were recorded today, and the months list moves on to 68, just one behind last years record March total - surely this will now be at least equalled ? The year list moves on to 74, still 7 behind the total achieved by the end of last march.
Above: Migrant Alley produces it's second migrant this year. A Wheatear