Spring has well and truly sprung and the last of the winter birds disappeared with the last post , however the weather has been a bit chilly for those early migrants which have appeared including a couple of nights of frost and some light snow flurries. I anticipate that the chiffchaffs and blackcaps that have been singing around the village might be missing more tropical climes.
Credit: merseymouse Flickr via Compfight cc
My WEBS survey in nearby Marlingford was a little late this month delayed by weather and stuff, so I took the opportunity to see what had arrived on the spring winds today and set out despite some early rain. The first bird I came across was a favourite of mine but a bit bedraggled after another heavy wintry shower.
The rain soon cleared and despite the poor weather the chiffchaffs started singing accompanied by some linnets and a robin. I walked down an alleyway of young hawthornes and was surprised by a little green rocket that shot up in front of me laughing. The green woodpeckers were to continue to follow me throughout the afternoon. The warblers kept singing if sometimes a little muted and I soon added willow warbler a distant sedge warbler and then the distinctive call of the first lesser whitethroat of the year.
After finding a spot near a pond to set up my camera trap ready for the long weekend I flushed some more partridge and a grey heron. I tend to set the trap on a clear animal path but set it this time on a small pond so it will be interesting to see what does or doesn’t turn up. On its last outing I got the following shots of a Muntjac stag which has tended only to show in the evenings but this one was obviously too hungry to wait until nightfall.
My next stop was the mere and having listened to canada geese, black headed gulls and oystercatchers on the approach through the oak woods I was anticipating a crowd as I had seen last month. All my favourites were there and more advanced in their breeding cycles there were downy young mallards and greylag goslings and Great crested grebes and an oystercatcher on their nests.
The spring babies and nesting birds were not the highlight for me though that was the hordes of hirundines with over a hundred house martins and about thirty swallows hawking for flies suggesting more than enough to make a summer. after an age of watching these masters of the sky swirling and looping I settled down to some serious scanning of the mere edges and islands to check for other residents and passers by. The next pleasant sighting was what is probably a passer through rather than a settler a little ringed plover. This delicate visitor from Eastern Europe has spread through south east Britain thanks to mans help in the form of gravel works.
My new sightings of the year were not over as I scanned the gulls counting up the Black headed ones and the lesser black backed gulls I came across a pair of common terns. These noisy birds have spent the winter in Africa and will breed locally and fish off the Great Melton Reservoir as well as other big local lakes and other open water.
After my wide variety of warblers and spring visitors I headed back home to put my feet up but having failed to see any of the top predators on my trip I was to be treated to a young male kestrel hunting and hovering above me as I returned to my car a perfect end to a spring bird fest.