Friday, 2 May 2014

Summer starts here!

After several weeks of rather limiting birding (save for a few mad dashes to East Yorkshire), May the 1st represented my first day of relative freedom after the first installment of my final exams. Due to some rather poor judgement the previous night, yes in retrospect no human should consume 6 cans of RedBull in a night, I was wide awake at 8am when I received a text from Adam about a drake Garganey on my patch, Port Meadow. Usually I would have rolled over and worried about it later but with half of the world's supply of caffeine coursing through my veins I decided to wander up there and have a look. After a brisk walk I fund myself on the patch for the first time in over the month. Almost straight away, picked up my first Swallows of the year hawking over the floods accompanied by good numbers of House Martins. I also quickly spotted a couple of Common Terns hanging around at the south end of the floods, according to Adam they appear to have made the floods their home and I later noticed them courtship feeding. This seems like a promising sign however I can't see anywhere in the meadow that they could successfully breed as disturbance leels are just too high. After a couple of scans I soon picked up the drake Garganey showing well along the far bank, as ever an absolute treat to see. The subtle grey vermaculations contrasting with the bold conjoining white supercillia and the ridiculous tertials all combine to make a sublime bird which is one of my most eagerly anticipated spring migrants. It was also only my second record for the patch and was far more active than last years bird which remained resolutely asleep for the duration of my visit. After enjoying the Garganey I had a wander around Burgess Field but it was relatively quiet, producing only the common warblers as patch yearticks.

Record shot of the drake Garganey

This morning I was back on patch again following earlier reports of some Common Sandpipers and a Cuckoo in the Burgess Field. As soon as I arrived I noticed my first Swifts of the year hawking low over the south end of the floods, a welcome site after what seems an eternity since my last, at Spurn in early September last year. I also relocated the Common Sandpipers along with an extra bird, bringing the day's tally to three. I also located a rather late Sand Martin among the numerous hirundines, a nice patch yeartick. The Garganey was also still hanging around remaining slightly distant although I did get the reasonable video of the bird though my phone. Also nice were an extremely late pair of Pintail a rather suprising bird to see on the patch in May! Despite hanging around at the north end of the Burgess Field, I failed to hear the Cuckoo although I can't imagine the could northeasterly breeze helped my efforts. A nice visit to the patch and I aim to make daily visits starting on the 11th. Until then I'll be in Tenerife and hope to mop up on a few of the endemics for my paltry Western Palearctic list.

A late pair of Pintail.

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