Sunday, 27 March 2016

Spring sprung

Somehow you never feel like winter is over until you get your first migrants so it has been a trying time over the last few weeks with many signs of spring but no migrants! First report concerns the WEBS on the 13th which at last had some duck, with 30 Wigeon, 19 Teal, and a pair of Tufted Duck on Horse-eye, and a more impressive 21 Pintail, 20 Shoveler, and 2 Gadwall on Down. Other highlights included 3 Raven, single Redshank, Kingfisher, Water Rail, and the Sacred Ibis which was present at White Dyke farm first thing before flying off towards Magham Down. The Brown Hares pictured above were watched courting and mating on Down Level, a single Mink was also seen on White Dyke.
So to Cheltenham week and a few away days... I realised this winter that it has been a while since I have seen a Great Grey Shrike so I have put in a couple of fruitless visits to Ashdown Forest in fog and rain in an attempt to see the overwintering bird on the Isle of Thorns. I finally managed to connect on the morning of the 14th when I paid a visit with Sharon and Hazel, and the bird put on an exemplary show for us hunting in bright sunshine.
The annual pilgrimage to Cheltenham on the 18th provided a Red Kite drifting over the M4 near Hungerford. Biggest away day though was to Exeter Chiefs to watch my nephew, Noah, have a training session before the game against Northampton. The drive down on the 19th involved a 3 mile detour from the main road to visit Portesham, where the Pallas's Warbler was watched at close range near the tyre dump. Seven-striped sprites are always a pleasure and this one was particularly bright in the early spring sunshine - my first spring bird since the one at Bognor in the last century!!! Serious rugby piggery ensued.

So to this Easter weekend and a gloriously sunny, warm, spring like Good Friday encouraged me to stretch the legs in the hope of migrants. A stunning selection of duck, some of which pictured above, were on Down Level, with 31 Shoveler, 22 Gadwall, 8 Pintail, 5 Wigeon, and 15 Teal, but no migrants. Sparrowhawk, 10 Little Egret, and the Tufted Duck were also seen, but no Sacred Ibis. The other highlight were my first lepidoptera of the year in the form of 2 Small Tortoiseshell on White Dyke, one of which is pictured below.

All of which encouraged to run the moth trap overnight which produced a catch of Early Grey, 3 Common Quaker, and 4 Hebrew Character, the last two also pictured below.

So finally to today, Easter Sunday, cold,miserable,and wet. An early morning trek around Down Level with Hazel produced little of note apart from 25 Shoveler and 5 Pintail, until suddenly hawking across the flashes 2 Swallow made my Easter. Winter is finally over.

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