And so we're into May already. The mere fact that it's May and we've got the floods still in tip top condition is indeed something to celebrate - it's been many years since this has happened. The last few days have been relatively quiet by comparison with previous ones but there's still been plenty to see.
As far as waders are concerned, we've had a Greenshank with us for several days now. In addition there's been a reasonable count of smaller waders with up to 8 Dunlin along with a Ringed Plover and a couple of Little Ringed Plover. The usual Oystercatchers have been with us but that has more or less been it.
On the duck front apart from one or two Mallards there are none left now apart from the lingering Shelduck of various numbers. One of these seems to be rather unwell and spends lots of its time asleep on the shore or looking miserable. We did have a single Egyptian Goose drop in one evening which was more unusual. But perhaps the highlight on the duck front was a very brief visit by a pair of Ruddy Shelduck that Dan Miller managed to photograph. Sadly records of this smart looking species are generally considered to be feral escapes rather than genuinely wild birds.
|Ruddy Shelduck courtesy of Dan Miller|
Raptors haven't had a mention for quite a while now but Ollie Padget spotted a Peregrine and a Hobby (the latter being a year tick) together one evening. Dave Lowe also had a Hobby over Burgess Field the following morning.
On the Warbler front they're all pretty much in now. I had a walk around Burgess Field early one morning in good weather and the bird song was amazing! There must be at least half a dozen Garden Warblers on territory there - it seems like a good year for them. There also seems to be a Willow Warbler breeding on the patch this year which is nice.
So what can be expect over the coming days? I've been racking my brains trying to remember what May birding is like with good floods. In general it gets quieter as many of the passage waders have already passed through. Dunlin and Ringed Plover are the staple sightings but we can look out for Knot, Sanderling and perhaps even a Turnstone (though Farmoor generally has the monopoly on this species). In general as the quantity diminishes so the quality goes up and there's more likelihood of something rarer being spotted. Possible candidates would include both Grey and Red-necked Phalaropes, Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis or Temminck's Stint. However, it's possible that we might end up with a non wader rarity: last year it was a Grey-headed Wagtail that stole the show and for some reason I keep obsessing about a Hoopoe on the patch.
Rarities aside I strongly recommend getting out to Burgess Field early one morning as the bird song is at its peak right now. Be warned, it's all over by 9a.m. at the latest presently and it gets very quiet after that. What's more soon it will stop much earlier as the birds get stuck into raising their young.