Monday, 21 March 2016

Not Quite Spring

Its the middle of March, and its time to think of early migrants. Over the last few weeks there have been a few Sand Martin and Little Ringed Plover reports, and some Ospreys are already back at their nest sites. Round here I have to set my sights a little lower, and round about now some of the locals should be over at Norton Green searching for and hopefully reporting the first Wheatears. Mind you its been a bit up and down with the weather-last weeks warm sunshine has been replaced by rather cold northerlies and things have been a bit quiet as a result.
Saturday started off rather cold, damp drizzle and things didn't really get much better. It wasn't very nice when the breeze picked up but in sheltered spots it didn't feel too bad. Having set off after breakfast, I had no definite plans, so Amwell is the usual destination, but at the last minute decided to carry on and ended up at Rye Meads instead. Sitting in hides seemed a bit more attractive than standing around at the rather exposed viewpoint.
I spent some time at the Draper hide waiting for something to happen. Due to the high water levels, the islands were rather small and were largely occupied by lots of Black Headed Gulls with a few Common Gulls. A couple of 1w Herrings were also present along with a more interesting 4w type Herring. It seemed a bit flat headed, long billed, small eyed and the legs were not really pink. It looked a bit Caspianish and out of the water, the more upright stance added to the impression, but it just didn't seem right to be one. I took a few pictures, and watched it for a bit, then the artist and Rye Meads ringer Alan Harris turned up, so I pointed it out to him. His view was that it was just a rather odd Herring.

Walking up to the lagoons didn't produce much apart from a few tits and several Cetti's Warblers. Finches seemed to be in short supply, whether the recent work clearing some of the banks and shrub pruning have anything to do with it I don't know-Chaffinches and Greenfinches were singing but there was no sign of any Bullfinch or the wintering Brambling.
The lagoons didn't have much either so I carried on to the Warbler hide overlooking the Meads. Large areas of reed have been cleared, revealing the ditches and ponds, so it is much more open. One Green Sandpiper was the only bird of note however.
I made my way back with a stop off at the Kingfisher hide. It seemed a bit quiet here as well, but for a brief moment as the sun broke through, a Chiffchaff started singing. It shut up very quickly when the sun went in, but at least it hinted of spring. One of the Kingfishers flew in for a few minutes, sitting on one of the posts beside the nest bank, but then flew off. Lots of nice perches have been put up in front of the hide, but it decided to stay as far away as possible. As a result my images weren't all that great.

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