A dense fog had descended over my patch this morning, and visibility was down to 30m, not the best conditions for a patch visit, in fact fog is probably my least favourite of the elements!
As feared, the foggy conditions meant a poor day list was recorded, just 38 species were seen, mainly due to not being able to see any flyover species, but some regular species were missing, such as Mallard, Moorhen, Green woodpecker, Skylark, Meadow Pipit and no Raptors.
I rarely needed to lift my binoculars on this frustrating visit, and to pick out any birdy highlights is very difficult, but I would probably go for the 14 LESSER REDPOLL that dropped down from the fog and alighted in the Scrub area next to the still frozen lakes. The less said about today the better I think!
So i'll take a look at this years records, in particular the arrival of the much awaited spring migrant species.
Come March, I always look out for the early Migrants, and there were four species seen, the first, as is always the case, was the CHIFFCHAFF which was heard singing on the 18th, just 2 days later than the mean arrival date. The next species to turn up was the WHEATEAR, which arrived on the 21st, this being 17 days earlier than the mean arrival date, however, the last 5 years they have been recorded earlier than the previous 4, due to my increased visits, and a truer mean arrival date would be around the 19 of March.
The last two March Migrants were the SWALLOW, which arrived four days earlier than the mean date, but five days later than the earliest ever, recorded in 2003, and the somewhat surprising WILLOW WARBLER, the first ever to be recorded in march, its arrival on the 24th was a full week earlier than the previous earliest Willow Warbler record, made back in 2006 on April 1st.
By April the Migrants were really beginning to arrive, the next species was the BLACKCAP, arriving on the 1st, just one day later than the mean, but the next visitor was a real surprise, a BLACK REDSTART that dropped into Migrant Alley on the 7th, the first spring record of for this species. SAND MARTINS are always looked for in March, but I had to wait until the 10th April to see my first one this year, they are a scarce passage species on my patch and have been seen in just 3 of the 9 springs of patch recording.
On the 18th of April a real influx of summer species arrived, with HOUSE MARTIN, CUCKOO, and both COMMON and LESSER WHITETHROATS. The Cuckoo was 4 days later than the mean arrival date, the Lesser Whitethroat five days later, and the Common Whitethroat was a day earlier, as was the House martin.
The HOBBY and the SWIFT arrived on the same date, that being the 22nd April, the Hobby was my first April record for the patch, making it the earliest ever, the Swift was also my earliest ever, by 6 days.
Next to visit my patch were the TURTLE DOVE, which arrived bang on the mean date of the 24th, along with the YELLOW WAGTAIL and NIGHTINGALE, the former arriving five days later than the mean date, but has only been recorded in the last 4 springs. The Nightingale was once a former breeder on my patch, but this one was the first seen since 2007, however it didn't stay to breed.
May brought the later arriving Migrants, they were the GARDEN WARBLER which arrived four days earlier than the mean date of the 5th, then the SPOTTED FLYCATCHER which arrived on the 15th, six days later than the mean, followed 3 days later by the REED WARBLER, this migrant has only been recorded in five of the nine springs recorded, but its mean arrival date is the 22nd, making this springs record 3 days early.
A WHIMBREL that was recorded on the 10th of May was only the 3rd spring record, so a mean date doesn't really apply, the other records for this seldom seen species were the 1st May in 2006, and the 21 Apr. in 2008. COMMON TERN is another very scarce sighting over my patch, these have been recorded in just 4 springs, with dates varying from the earliest 'first' date of 26 April in 2003, to the latest 'first' date of 4th of June, which was this year.
...........and that was the Spring for 2010, I look forward to 2011!!!