I decided to make a circuit of Migrant Alley and have a short skywatch from my seat there, but before I had even reached Migrant alley, I spied my first SWIFT (88,68) of the year, tumbling about in the wind over the Greenhouse Complex, maybe the month will end on a bit of a high after all! It would have been disappointing not to have found my first Swift in April, as only twice in the 11 years has the first one not been recorded in this month ( 2003 and 2008) the 11 year median average arrival date for Swift is the 29th of April, so they were right on cue this year :-)
Happy enough with that little triumph, I proceeded on my way round Migrant Alley, and was met with huge puddles of water filling every dip and depression in the ground, some of it over a foot deep, this took some carefull negotiating!
|These twp puddles were over a foot deep, and were joined by by a shallower stretch of water just under the grass. It looks nice and warm and sunny, but there was a strong cold wind blowig over that hedge on the right!|
Just as I reached the far puddle in the above photo, a small bird flew over my head and back the way I'd just walked, diving into the hedgerow, I followed it with my bins and saw the unmistakable red tail of a Redstart - fantastic! I thought it was a female Common Redstart at first, a scarce enough passage migrant here, but after sloshing my way back through the puddles, and getting a bit closer to the bird, I saw it was in fact a female BLACK REDSTART (89,69) an even scarcer species on my patch! Brilliant bird! A shame I couldn't get within 30m of it for a photo though :-( This is just the 3rd spring record for my patch, all having occurred in the last 3 years, Migrant Alley didn't let me down after all this year, it normally throws in something nice over the course of the spring :-)
I finshed my circuit of the fields and paddocks without anymore excitement, a HOUSE MARTIN flew over, and I enjoyed seeing a mixed flock of GOLDFINCH and LINNETS feeding on Dandelion heads in one of the paddocks, also watching 4 LONG TAILED TITS in the wooded headland to the north, they were all collecting food, but I didn't see any fledglings about. A SPARROWHAWK drifted over, and one of the KESTRELS was up hunting, a GREY HERON also slowly flapped its way over the sheep pasture, and was mobbed by all the ROOKS!
The month has indeed ended on a bit of a high note then, but there are still a couple of spring migrants that would have been expected to have been recorded this month, but haven't, namely the Turtle Dove and the Lesser Whitethroat, and maybe just, the Hobby. Tomorrow afternoon will be the last chance to get them on this months list, which with todays two additions just about scrapes up to 69, which is in fact the mean average species total for April, but 8 speceis behind the record April of last year.
During the rain and gales of this norning, I tried to take some photo's of my garden birds, it was difficult in the poor conditions but here they are anyway :-)
|Wet and bedraggled COLLARED DOVE|
|Another wet and bedraggled Collared Dove|
|GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER|