Thick low cloud and rain showers made for a very Autumnal feel to this morning, when it barely got light at all, a stiff NW breeze made it more uncomfortable.
With the sky threatening more heavy rain, I decided to go and have a sky watch from my seat at Migrant Alley, which is also in quick reach of the cover of the poly tunnels, should it chuck it down! I had an idea the low cloud and stiff NW wind, which can be a rewarding direction for my patch, would be promising for flyovers, and so it proved when within minutes of taking up my seat my first LAPWING (62) of the month was seen flying over, a good species to see here in July.
After forty minutes or so, I had watched a procession of HERRING and BLACK HEADED GULLS going westwards, as well as a couple of LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS and a GREY HERON. I then saw a smart male HOBBY streak past, always great to see them :-) Another half hour passed, and more Gulls went through, SWIFTS started to appear too, they joined the SWALLOWS, feeding quite high up in the dark skies, where a SKYLARK was singing loudly.
The best sightings were still come though, and my final hour on my seat provided me with great excitement, when I watched a WHIMBREL (93,63) fly in from the S. It was very low, and looked tired as it battled into the wind, but I didn't expect it to alight in one of the horse paddocks 150 meters from my seat! It stayed feeding and resting for 10 minutes, then flew off over my position, calling as it went, I watched it spiral up high and disappear far away to the SE. A fantastic species to get on my patch year list, which had stalled at just 92 species since May. ( My year list can now be viewed on the tab under the header photo)
Another two Raptor species also flew through, bringing the count to 4 with the earlier seen Hobby and the KESTREL family that were active behind me at the Greenhouse Grounds, those being SPARROWHAWK and a rather tatty looking, but very welcome PEREGRINE (64) not had one of these on my patch since May. The July species list now gets propelled to joint sixth position out of 13, the July's of 2006 and 2010 finishing on the same monthly total. Just as I was leaving, due to the rain moving in, I heard, incredibly enough, yet another Whimbrel calling! I scanned the sky and after 30 seconds of it giving me audible clues to its whereabouts, I finally saw it high up heading NW, surely a second bird and not the one seen an hour or so earlier ? Either way, it was quite brilliant few hours spent sky watching over Migrant Alley :-)
It was a shame the weather was quite so dark and dismal, meaning the camera was left at home, but even if I had taken it with me, any shots of the Whimbrel on the paddock would have been barely discernable as one in the poor light and at such a distance :-( I have got a few images to brighten the page though, and after looking at Marc Heaths latest blog post, where he showed some brilliant images of the fantastic Golden Ringed Dragonfly, I thought I would do the same, after all, I have got hundreds of photo's of them!!