Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Migrants week ending 17/04/16

Northerly winds in recent days have probably held up migration to a degree, however, such is the urgency to return to reaffirm territories for breeding, many migrants do make it through adverse conditions and announce their return with a wonderful variety of song.
Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps are now widespread and singing within their chosen habitats.  It is still evident however that many suitable habitats have yet to be filled by returning Blackcaps.  My first Blackcap of the year was a singing male at Hethersett on 29th March followed by a more local record at Thompson on 3rd April.
Willow Warblers appeared to arrive later than usual this year with the first not heard singing until 11th April at Thompson.  The same day saw a pair of mating Marsh Harriers on the patch, a great local record.
My first Hirundines were seen on 12th April with a House Martin at Barnham Broom, a little while later a single Swallow was seen at Barford.
The 15th and 16th April were particularly wet days with drier conditions finally arriving early afternoon on the latter date.  On 16th April I visited Little Cressingham (The Arms) with the intention of finding my first Whitethroat of the year, as I approached The Arms I heard a quiet scratchy sub-song which stopped me in my tracks, I saw movement and a short while later I saw a stunning male Lesser Whitethroat skulking in roadside hedgerows, its constant picking at branches and Blackthorn blossom suggested this might have been a recently arrived tired migrant.  This is one of my earliest returning Lesser Whitethroats.
A visit to Bodney on 17th April saw and heard 3 migrant Warbler species on territory, these were Chiffchaffs, Blackcap, and at least one Willow Warbler.  As well as summer migrants, winter visitors will also still be on the move.  A single Fieldfare on heathland looked quite lonesome given the usual gregarious nature of this species.  Finally, at least one Redpoll overflew in a northerly heading, a possible outgoing wintering bird.

2 comments:

  1. G'day Paul...
    I've been reading, but either too busy or too knackered to comment...
    this is the time of the year when our garden calls the loudest!!

    Love the photograph of the Lesser Whitethroat...
    I bought Pauline a painting of one from the Society of Wildlife Artists exhibition...
    your one is in the same pose... nice!

    Our only warblers at the moment are Chiffus Chaffus and the Blackcap...
    no Whitethroats yet... but plenty of nettle for them...
    and nothing else of that ilk, either.

    Swallows have returned...as have the "boys from town", the House Martins...
    one batch of swallows came down the valley accompanied by a pair of "eager diners"... Hobbies!
    Black Redstarts are back, too, but not certain if we've only the one female in his harem...
    it is usually two.
    The Stonechats have returned from their sojourn in the woods above...
    locally, although we never got to see one, there was a fall of Ring Ouzels...
    a very rare occurrence... they almost always overfly this part of the world...
    at night... on their way too and from Africa.

    Harriers have been seen...
    Hens all winter, an immature/female Marsh about ten days ago hunting down the valley... our meadow included...
    and a pair of Monty's when we were forced to take a diversion across the tops.
    They often nest up there, but these weren't our locals...
    headed almost due North, low, but flying strongly...
    on migration certainly.

    I recently bought two more camera traps...
    to monitor the wildlife on the 6 acres of meadow and have altered the status of our Watervole population...
    three possible centres of population on the millstream alone...
    one in direct line of sight from the kitchen/front door.
    It was while watching some fighting going on, yesterday...
    and trying in vain to catch the action with my camera....
    that I saw a Little Egret drop into the water a little further up...
    presumably for a spot of frogging...
    pix throught the trees until it took of again...
    got a wonderful flight shot as it flew overhead over the house!

    The purchase of the aforesaid camera traps have allowed us to keep one trained on the Barn Owl box for longer this year...
    thanks to some passerines, we got a couple of daylight pix and videos of the Tawnies in occupation...
    normally only infra-red.
    But something very strange has occurred this year...
    we seem to have some "air b'n'b" or timeshare happening...
    the Tawnies are early nesters, but because of a low vole count...
    the cat hasn't caught many in the early months...
    we thought that activity at the beginning of April was them just starting...
    but, having seen a Barn Owl leave the box... two days ago as I changed the SD card...
    so we are now going back through the pix and videos to see when a change-over occurred and was it a case of absence of owl...
    or was it a take-over?!

    More will follow....I am certain!

    ReplyDelete
  2. A fantastic read and catch up here Tim, thank you very much for this.
    I see you mention "no Whitethroats yet", I have not seen any until this morning when I found 2 males together at Little Cressingham....good to have them back. My Lesser Whitethroat on the 16th April is my earliest ever return for this species.
    Generally however, the northerly winds have not been kind to returning migrants I feel. No Hobbies here yet Tim.

    I have been checking favourable locations for Ring Ouzel without success, however, given the numbers on the coast I am sure there will be local birds about.

    I am off for a week from Monday 25th April Tim...and I have a mission. Twenty years ago I could walk around my patch and locate up to 10 Nightingales, however, they appear to have become very scarce, I know we have lost some wonderful habitat for Nightingales at Merton, but my mission...will hopefully not be impossible, is to get out there at night and see what the population (if any) is.
    Once again Tim, many thanks for your post...always good to read.

    Paul

    ReplyDelete