Monday, 9 April 2012

April 2012

The Easter break was predominently filled with Hampshire birding with visits around the county, mostly the coast where I hoped to find something of interest. However unlike last year where many migrants were in early, migrants were about 2-3 weeks later than usual so extra effort was required to find the likes of Whitethroat and Garden Warbler, let alone anything scarce. Migrants were eventually picked off one by one, and a few lingering winter birds provided some interest. I only left the county once during this time for a very good candidate for Thayer's Gull at Brigg, Lincolnshire (5th) with Dan Pointon. A very striking individual that was refound on arrival by Chris Batty, it was then surprisingly easy to pick up thanks to a couple of diagnostic features; an obvious notch missing out of the tail, combined with missing P5 in the right wing noticeable in flight. This bird looked the part (as far as my limited knowledge of the species can say), a nice dark velvety individual with darker outer webs to the outer primaries, contrasting with the pale inner primaries and secondaries. Classic Iceland Gull-like profile with all the subtle features to go with it.
Hampshire interest was provided by Willow Tits in the North of the county (3rd), Jack Snipe (2 on 7th, 1 on 8th) at Pennington Marshes where I also managed to dip 2 very mobile Glossy Ibises. Conveniently however, Lee Fuller and myself managed to bump into one of the birds the following day (8th) at Needs Ore Point constituting a county tick for ourselves, this bird soon did a disappearing act before it could be twitched, seemingly over to the Isle of Wight. A juv Spoonbill was also at Needs Ore that day, and a drake Garganey at Pennington. A Hoopoe visited Pig's Bush - New Forest for a couple of days (from 10th) and Ring Ouzels finally arrived at Beacon Hill (14th) with 3 males present after failing to find any a week previously. A few migrants trickled past the coast on the 15th with my first Arctic Skua and Osprey of the year, while the Spoonbill still lingered at Needs Ore. An additional highlight came in the form of 2 adult Mediterranean Gulls passing low over my house which was the first addition to the garden list this year!

On 16th, I headed down to Cornwall for a 2 week stint constructing Uni work and carrying out fieldwork for one of our modules. Mainly researching and photographing re-introduced Cirl Buntings in the county. Unlike last year at this time where there was plenty of scarcities about, this year was very quiet and the only rarities seen were enroute with an adult female Black-winged Stilt at Abbotsbury Swannery (Dorset) and female Blue-winged Teal and Cattle Egret at Walmesley Sanctuary (Cornwall). Elsewhere was quiet, no thanks to the poor weather: strong wind and heavy rain most days where only standard Cornish birds were seen. However 15+ Cirl Buntings were seen at the undisclosed site visited, up to 6 Adders at Godrevy and 3 Chough on The Lizard.
Once back in Hampshire for the last few days of the month, I began recceing a few sites in preperation for the Spring Bird Race, however with few migrants in, it was best delayed as long as possible before I head off to Romania on the 4th May. 2 Black Terns and 2CY Little Gull were at Ibsley Water (30th) with another summer plumaged Black Tern and adult Little Gull off Hill Head in the evening. A 2CY Ficedula Flycatcher species has also been found at Flamborough Head (East Yorkshire) in the last few days of the month; showing characteristics which may suggest Atlas Flycatcher, a potential first for Britiain. Personally I think its a hybrid Pied x Collared, but who knows I may end up heading North simply for insurance sakes...

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