This mornings walk was the last of my 'nine in a row' holiday walks, its back to work tomorrow :-(
Overall it has been a little disappointing, with no new migrant species seen at all! However that all changed today, and how very apt, as today was my 1000th full patch walk!! At 3.5 miles per walk I could have walked to Africa and seen the birds there!
Anyway, it was quite an eventful walk, the first half of it across the tree nursery, Migrant Alley and the College Grounds was proving to be all too familiar, just the resident species being seen, plus a SAND MARTIN that flew over Ashes lane as I was coming back for a break, only the second one seen this spring.
As I started the second half of my walk, a Common Whitethroat was heard, but it was 50m off my patch - very tantalising, but it proved to me the migrants were near! The excitement started as I was leaving the lake side scrub, when at last a CUCKOO (81 65) was heard calling, from exactly the area I had just left! I stopped and listened, and marvelled at this birds ability to turn up at the same place and the same time every year (give or take a few days!), this one has turned up 7 days later than the earliest ever, and is the joint latest arrival, with that in 2002.
Before setting off again, I was treated to the months first MUTE SWAN (66), and as I followed it round, in my binocular vision, I passed the Cuckoo, in the top of a tree, it stayed just long enough for an absmal photo of it :-)
At last a bit of spring I thought to myself, but just a few minutes later, whilst crossing the Tree Nursery, I heard the rattling call of a LESSER WHITETHROAT (82,67) Fantastic, two new migrants on the same day, - and the sun was out, cant be bad! I made my way over to Migrant Alley, and just before reaching it, I had another surprise, this time a COMMON WHITETHROAT (83,68), this one was on my patch, right in some brambles at the Greenhouse Complex.
Bouyed on by my sightings, I spent an hour skywatching at Migrant Alley, but it all came to an end, with just a flyover MEADOW PIPIT of note.
After lunch I decided that I would show my lady wife Joy, the delights of Migrant alley :-), on the pretence that it was a lovely sunny afternoon and we would be sure to see lots of butterflies, which we did, including Small and Large Whites, Comma Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, and a probable Small Copper, but it flew off strongly before I could ID it for certain. However, the best sighting was of a WHEATEAR, a real cracker sitting on the fence line, now I didn't expect that did I ;-).
On our return home, deck chairs and cups of tea in the garden were called for, where the day got even better, when 4 - 5 HOUSE MARTINS (84, 69) circled high over us, 4 new migrants for the day, and a brilliant day list of 52. Spring has kicked off at last!
Year list = 84 - 9 behind the end of April last year
Months list=69 - 3 behind the highest April total set last year.
Above and below: A GREEN WOODPECKER, this was at the lakeside scrub, pity I was facing into the sun.