Monday 29 May 2017

Foolish Birding

After a fairly murky morning with heavy rain I managed to time my patch birding perfectly, with the clouds breaking revealing some warm Spring sunshine. After a bit of a rush of migrants to the end of March, I was hopeful that the start of April would follow in the same vain.

I started at Burnt Mill Farm where I was delighted to find that the first Wheatears were finally back in. At least 7 Wheatear were bouncing about the paddocks, including some nice confiding birds which allowed some good photo opportunities (....for me!). The paddocks were full of Meadow Pipit, Linnet and Goldfinch, although it was slightly alarming that there was a distinct lack of Corn Bunting again. A Willow Warbler was singing in the garden of Burnt Mill Farm, my first of the Spring and always a joy to hear.

Moving down Carr Lane I stopped at the bridge and found a female Garganey feeding quietly at the back of the flooded field. The fields were alive with Wheatear whilst Great Boar Wood and the scrubby ditch along the back of Ramsbrook were alive with Chiffchaff and Blackcap. The sudden arrival of some sunshine clearly tempted the raptors out with 3 Peregrine, 20+ Buzzard, 2 Sparrowhawk and 6 Kestrel. Sadly despite what looked like perfect conditions and good numbers elsewhere I failed to find any Osprey.

Carr Lane Pools were remarkably quiet with only a handful of hirundines flying around, so I moved quickly onto the bridge on Town Lane. A Great White Egret was sat out distantly on the Marsh, whilst at least 2 Water Pipit were still present. It will be interesting to see how long they decide to remain.

Heading round to Within Way I caught up with the Little Owl, which was enjoying the afternoon sunshine. 2 Marsh Harrier were soaring on the thermals just east of Runcorn Hill, whilst a female Merlin shot through. Hale Marsh held a Green Sandpiper and the hybrid Shelduck sp.  but the tide failed to push many waders in. With very little else moving, and next to no migrants I decided to head back towards Carr Lane again.

The male Garganey had reappeared on the main pools, whilst a very smart summer plumaged Water Pipit was feeding in the small pool just in front of the gap in the hedge. There were still at least 5 Wheatear bouncing around, and a Whimbrel came flying over from the north and headed towards Hale Marsh. A Siskin and a Lesser Redpoll flew over, just as a reminder that it was still early Spring. With my time running out, I decided to head home.

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