It looks nice from inside the house but outside that biting easterly wind continues to blow with a wind-chill of below freezing. We are almost at the end of March and still, I have not found a Chiffchaff on my patch. Usually, by this date, the local woodlands will have Chiffchaffs and a few early Blackcaps singing and establishing their territories, however, the persistence of this cold easterly wind is blocking migration. There must be tens of thousands of Warblers on the near continent waiting for fortunes to change in the weather, when this does happen, there will be an urgency in their passage to get back to their territories and get on with the business of breeding.
This morning I was out at dawn in woodland at Thompson, in fact, I walked from Thompson Water to Thompson Common and back hoping for Chiffchaff. Despite the absence of summer migrants, there was plenty of evidence of common resident species singing and defending their territories. Several Treecreepers were heard including a couple of singing males, and Nuthatches were also quite vocal. 2 singing Marsh Tits were heard giving their loud and rapidly repeated "chip chip chip chip" song. Great Tits were also heard as was the odd Coal Tit whilst on the woodland floor, a number of Redwings were foraging amongst the leaf-litter. Overhead, several Siskins were heard.
A number of Great Spotted Woodpeckers were 'drumming' and one particular male responded to my tapping on a tree with a stone. Try it - sit quietly in an area where you hear a 'drumming' Great Spotted Woodpecker and give a few taps on a tree (preferably dead wood for good resonance), the Woodpecker will fly around the tree-tops above you investigating the sound and may come quite close, however, don't put him off for too long as he needs to get on with the business at hand of maintaining a hold on his territory.
A short visit to Thompson Water produced singing Cetti's Warbler, a pair of Great Crested Grebes, Teal calling from within cover, Coot, a couple of Cormorants, 1 Greylag Goose, a pair of Mute Swans, and a Grey Heron which flew in from the north-east.
Let's hope that the forthcoming Easter Bank Holiday weekend sees the safe arrival of the first summer migrants.