Blog

Sun 14th April 2013

Posted on April 17, 2013 at 5:10 PM

Thank God. Spring has finally arrived. This year has been the slowest start to spring migration that I can ever remember. Those endless days of cold winds stopped everything in their tracks and they didn't seem especially keen to continue, even after the winds changed.  We don't have many weeks of proper migration to savour in the year, so these couple of weeks wasted are a shame. It's only really been this weekend that there has been an obvious surge of migrants. I had a quick stroll around Fort Doyle this morning and there were scores of tired Wheatears all along the coastline plus a female Black Redstart. Very little variety though for the time of the month.

.

male Wheatear - Fort Doyle, 14 Apr 13

.

Going back to the final few cold days of the Easter holidays, on 4th April, since nothing was coming in, I went for another look at the Water Pipits at Vazon as they were staying much later than any of our wintering birds usually do. They were looking even more resplendent and I soon realised that I was looking at three birds - an extra bird had appeared. A few days later, on 7th, I looked again and saw that two birds were still present and I think that there may have been a 4th, but one in less obvious, more winter-plumage. It was a real treat studying these "pink and blue"  pipits feeding with the wagtails in the vraic. Water Pipits have always been special birds for me because they were the first "rare" birds I ever found. OK, they aren't that rare, but Yorkshire is quite far North, and the two birds I found on the bank of the River Aire when I was a teenager were the first ever record for Swillington Ings. It's all relative.

.

Water Pipit - Vazon, 7 Apr 13 

.

 

.

This bird (above) was, I think, probably another Water Pipit but I couldn't get a good photo or clear views. It is very unstreaked below and is also very whitish on the underparts, brown above with greyer head, but appeared to lack any pink yet. 

.

 

Rock Pipit - Vazon, 7 Apr 13 

.

Garganey - Vale Pond, 11 Apr 13 - still present and a bit closer, and as you can just see on the photo, I was listening to it calling quietly.

.

Little Egret - Pulias, 9 Apr 13

.

So, as you can see, although it is nice to get a few migrants in at last, it is hardly electrifying stuff. There's usually a few rarities on the island by now. Let's hope things heat up in the second half of the month. My 1000-species challenge is going fine despite the cold and I have hit 300 species, but the most spectacular non-avian beast I have found is shown below - a Black Oil Beetle, seemingly bursting at the abdomen. There were a few of these in the turf on the clifftop at Pleinmont.

.

Black Oil Beetle - Pleinmont, 7 Apr 13

.

Categories: 2013 Spring