20th March

It's now officially spring and we've had the first spring migrant to prove it! Today I went for a run on the Meadow and managed to flush a LITTLE RINGED PLOVER along the East Shore. It didn't fly very far but as I didn't have my bins with me I couldn't relocate it. Later on in the day I came back for a more detailed look but it was nowhere to be seen.

There have been a couple of other year ticks to report as well. The first was the surprisingly late addition of Great Crested Grebe to the list. Normally these are about on the river pretty much all year but yesterday on the river just by the sailing club was the first that I've seen this year. The second tick was two separate sightings of BLACK-TAILED GODWIT. The first was a singleton seen by Ben Sandford-Smith a couple of days ago and the second record was a party of five birds that Andrew Siantonas found yesterday. Usually I'd expect to get this species on the list over the winter period so they're a bit late this year.

One of the joys of patch birding is getting excited by common stuff such as this Great Crested Grebe here

Apart from that there have been two or three Oystercatchers about, as well as three Redshank, 1 Dunlin and up to 12 Shelduck. For the first time today in a while we had a decent 100+ flock of Golden Plover. They're all moulting into their summer finery and are looking a bit tatty at the moment as they transition.

One of the regular Oystercatchers

12th March

There's a definite "end of season" feel to the gulling on the Meadow now. For one thing it's got really hard with a lot of the birds all looking frustratingly similar now and a lot of mongrel birds starting to put in an appearance. What's more, with the longer days it means that I'm no longer able to visit right at the peak pre-dusk time so it's no longer so productive. We've still managed to have one more good new gull in the form of a different adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL that eagled-eyed Thomas Miller picked out from the roost and one of the "usual" Caspian Gulls did pop in on one occasion.

The new Med Gull courtesy of Thomass Miller

Some video of the same bird

We've had good numbers of SHELDUCK hanging around still, with 12 there yesterday. We've also had a couple of OYSTERCATCHERS about most days as well as up to four REDSHANK. On occasions we've had some reasonable Golden Plover and one evening I counted several hundred along the shoreline, reminiscent of the good old days for this species.

The recent spell of ridiculously hot weather had been looking very promising for early spring migrants though the change to this very windy and indeed stormy period has rather put the kibosh on all that. Nevertheless with the first spring migrants starting to be seen in the county now (one flock of Sand Martins and a Little Ringed Plover) it's getting time to turn our thoughts in that direction. Who knows, we might well snaffle an early spring migrant (probably one of those two species) ourselves sometime soon.