|Wheatears, Bonhurst Farm, 28/4/2018.|
Every year is the same with Wheatears. You check the ideal looking sites (the Ridge, Bonhurst and Slades Farm) again and again, until finally perseverance pays off. This year it was very much London bus-style – a group of 3 visited Bonhurst for an hour or so on Saturday afternoon, before a single female at Ridings Brook (weirdly in an Ash!) on Sunday and another flock of 4 at Bonhurst later in the day.
Garden Warblers also turned up, among a marked sylvia arrival on Sunday. Plenty more Whitethroats and Willow Warblers too were in voice, along with Cuckoos, though I've still to catch up with the latter species. The Garden Warblers brought my list for 2018 up to 100, always a nice milestone, though it's the 106th species recorded here this year (Hobby making it 107 on Sunday).
|Garden Warbler, New Barn, 29/4/2018.|
2 Swifts north early on Saturday certainly weren’t on the radar – this is an earliest arrival by 7 days, and coming in drizzly and cold conditions was a bit of a surprise to see. A single Hobby on Sunday was another early record, by 8 days. The behaviour suggested it was in fact one of the returning local birds.
4 Lapwings moved north-west on Sunday too, but despite a vigil from Broomy Down I didn't manage to connect with any Bar-tailed Godwits - flocks of 31 (Walton Reservoirs) and 36 (Richmond Park) had graced Surrey skies earlier in the day. Sunday was a windy and cold affair, unlike the slightly more settled conditions of Friday and Saturday - these had produced little wind and rain, which resulted in the falls of migrants both locally and across the country.
|Pied Flycatcher, Shalford water meadows, 28/4/2018.|
April has delivered a lot of new species for the year, but in truth the daytime birds have been the usual spring fare. Noc-mig has provided the 5-star moments, with Common Scoter early in the month being rivalled by an Avocet for bird of the year. The individual in question flew over Allden’s Hil, during the warm spell, on the 20th, uttering it's flight call twice.
I thought Avocet from the off, and the consensus agreed when I shared the clip. The call and (crucially) the spectrogram match really nicely with this great recording of a nocturnally migrating Avocet by Joost van Bruggen. In the adjacent picture, my spectrogram is the pink on blue, and his the black on white.
|Nocturnal Avocet spectrograms|
With the recent removal of Little Bunting from the Thorncombe Street list Avocet becomes the 153rd species recorded here. All great stuff, but there's no denying the lunar birding has eclipsed the solar sessions this spring. Hopefully during the classically productive first couple of weeks of May I can find some special, daylight pretty visitors?
Away from patch, a venture to deepest Wales today delivered a very smart Green Heron.