21st March: Spring!

At last spring is sprung! Indeed the weather has been absolutely sublime the last few days - a welcome end to a long winter. Chiffchaff have now started singing and the first singing Blackcap was reported yesterday as well. Although it is only March such is the uptick in bird movement and sightings that it feels more like late April. It seems like things are all going to be early this year once more.

On the wader front there had been a lot of movement. It does suddenly seem like it's all kicking off though the reality is that it's all "winter wader" species on the move, . So we've had Black-tailed Godwits coming through in flocks of up to 11, a few Ruff (year tick!), some Dunlin and some Redshank - so all the classic winter wader species. In fact I am somewhat surprised that we've yet to have our first Little Ringed Plover. I guess that my expectations are very high these days of things being early.

Over the last couple of days we've had an influx of Garganey into the county with 8 birds suddenly arriving on the same day. I was very much hoping to get this charismatic species onto the Port Meadow year list and Ben Sheldon duly obliged by finding a pair today that had dropped in mid morning. Fortunately they stuck around until the end of the day so that people could come to pay homage.

The pair of Garganey

Apart from this start find, duck counts are definitely starting to go down. Our Shelduck numbers have dropped sharply from up to a dozen down to just a few pairs. There are still a few Pintail left and we are getting a few spring Gadwall appearing now as they usually do at this time of year. I would guess that with this find settled weather forecast until the end of the month this trend is only going to continue.

On the gull front, roost numbers have dropped sharply though the 2nd summer Mediterranean Gull has been roosting with us most evenings which is always nice to see.

As far as passerines are concerned, the star bird of  year so far, the Siberian Chiffchaff, turned up again after an absence of a couple of weeks. This time it was heard to make it's diagnostic call by Thomas Miller so we can now say with full confidence that it is indeed what we assumed it was. Mind you it was a pretty classic looking bird anyway so if it hadn't been one then I'd have been amazed.

The Siberian Chiffchaff showed very well

Brambling are still being seen at the Burgess Field feeder with three different individuals now recorded there as well as a small flyover flock. It's been an excellent year for what is normally a less than annual species on the patch.

So looking ahead, we've still to get Sand Martin and LRP on the year list and we should start to see some more warbler species arriving over the next few weeks. My one concern is that in this good weather the floods aren't going to last that long so it's important to make the most of them whilst they are still with us,

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