The first rain for some time fell as I walked home from work this afternoon, and continued on for a couple of hours, before petering out around 16:30hrs. So it was a shortened patch walk this afternoon, but a none the less worth while one.
After checking the COOTS on the ornamental lake, and the nesting CANADA GEESE on the main lake, I gave a quick scan of the all the lake edges, to make sure nothing else was lurking, it wasn't, and I moved on to the Tree Nursery and Pub Field, seeing the MARSH TIT along the footpath from the lake to the Wet Woods, will it stay into April ?
The rain fell at its heaviest whilst at the two fields and only a half hearted scan was done, but nothing was seen apart from the Corvids, WOODPIGEONS and STOCK DOVES. I quickly moved on to Migrant Alley, getting wetter all the time, plus the wind made it feel cold, and I thought about giving it a miss, however I decided to stick with it, and pushed myself up against the tall hedge adjacent to my sky watching seat, and watched the sky.
Within a few Minutes a small movement of MEADOW PIPITS went over heading NW, about 16 birds were involved, the most ive seen all year. Ten minutes later another strung out flock went over, following the first, this time 8 birds were seen. Once again, a few moments later the 'seep' calls of Meadow Pipits were heard again, but this time as I raised my bins, I got onto a SWALLOW (81, 68), as I watched it, I saw two more! The first Swallows of the year, what a joy, that certainly cheered the afternoon, and then, as if on cue, the rain stopped :-)
The first Swallow sightings of each of the last 9 years, are quite close together, stretching over 14 days, from the earliest on 23 March 2003, to the latest which was on the 5 April 2007. The latest date of 16 April, which was made in the first year of recording in 2002, doesn't really count, and can be explained by the lack of visits in that year, I used to work all day back then :-) However taking that into account the mean arrival date for the ten years is the 1st April.
I stayed watching the sky for another half hour, eventually beginning to get a bit cold in the wind, but before I headed off home, I heard two LITTLE OWLS calling in the Greenhouse Copse, also two GREYLAG GEESE flew over, and a group of 7 Gulls alighted in the sheep pasture, five of those were LESSER BLACK BACKS and the other two were HERRING GULLS.
With just one day left of the month, I am unlikely to beat the record March total of 71 set last year, but I might just find one more species to equal the second best total of 69 set in 2009. That year, by the way, was a remarkable year, as I recorded the fastest 100 species, a total achieved by May 17th, the total by the end of March that year was 81 the same as the year total today, so it could be another quick 100 this year :-)