14th March - End of Winter Update

Here we are at the end of winter finally. Today the first spring migrant (a Little Ringed Plover) was seen in the county and there was some county wader movement as well with a Black-tailed Godwit and three Avocet all seen. So with spring finally starting to happen I thought I'd do an end of season round-up in anticipation of more frequent blog posts to follow.

There's not been anything particularly special to mention since the last postings. The gulling quality has gradually dwindled with just one or two more Caspians being seen in the roost. Today in a roost of thousands of Black-headed Gulls but less than fifty larger gulls there was a 1st winter CASPIAN GULL that looks a lot like Thomas' "bird 5". There was also a 2nd winter YELLOW-LEGGED GULL as well. Both Thomas and I have been keenly scouring the roost trying to get Mediterranean Gull on the year list during the key spring passage month of March but so far to no avail. It looks like we've gone yet another season without a white winger in the county let alone on the patch though technically there is still time. We can't really complain though: we've had double digit numbers of different Caspian Gulls and (thanks largely to Thomas's efforts) have cemented the Meadow as one of the top Caspian sites in the county.

Some pretty terrible video footage of "Bird 5" on the floods this evening.
You might want to turn off the audio!

Away from gulls (at last I hear some of you cry!) there have been the usual good numbers of ducks. The floods have been extremely extended for much of the last month which has made for ideal conditions for them. There have been up to 8 SHELDUCK about with a smattering though steadily decreasing number of GOOSANDER coming in to roost. PINTAIL counts haven't been that large with just a few birds and none today. We are starting to get a few of the usual spring GADWALL records with three of them today in amongst the throng. On the goose front I've not seen the BARNACLE GEESE for a few weeks now though they were about quite a bit when the floods were at their largest. The mongrel WHITE-FRONTED GEESE from Blenheim that include some hybrids with a BAR-HEADED GOOSE have been coming in to roost at last light quite often.

On the wader front we had 6 RUFF visiting us again for a few days when the floods were very extended (what I like to call "Lake Mode") and up to five DUNLIN as well. We've had the first pair of OYSTERCATCHERS back on site again and I expect them to be around for quite some time now as I think they breed nearby. A couple of REDSHANK have been hanging out near the river. Surprisingly we've not had a Black-tailed Godwit so far though I expect that to change fairly soon.

Away from the floods in Burgess Field we've had regular sightings of a BARN OWL though I've personally yet to catch up with it.

The Barn Owl courtesy of Matthew Lloyd

Looking ahead for the rest of this month, it's still actually very early in the season. We can expect some wader movement as overwintering birds start to move back up north. In addition we might well get our first Little Ringed Plover and perhaps also Sand Martins. This is also a prime month for Garganey so it's worth looking through the duck flock carefully. On the gull front it's still everything to play for with the Med Gulls and it's just possible that we might one day find a Ring-billed Gull in amongst the Common Gull passage that is currently happening. One can dream!