Here we are in March already and the start of the meteorological Spring (though for me it will still be the spring equinox which marks the start). Back in the day I would of course do far more posts than the one per month that I am presently doing over the winter. However, times have changed and methods of communication have shifted to WhatsApp so there is less need for regular updates on the blog. Also, to be honest, it becomes a bit of a chore to do blog updates too frequently and the heady days of youthful enthusiasm have now given way to the jaded reluctance of middle age. Also, February is usually a fairly quiet month with the same winter birds being seen each day. Still, we've had some good birds this month to keep interest ticking over.
Let's start with waders where it's been a good month. The highlight was an Avocet which dropped into the floods just for the morning where it was a much welcomed year tick addition. This species is a bit less than annual on the Meadow but is always a treat to see.
|Avocet courtesy of Matthew Lloyd|
Some video footage of the Avocet
We had the first Black-tailed Godwit for the year (and the county year) on the Meadow this month. We also had some returning Oystercatchers with up to 3 birds seen and a couple of Redshank. Another good bird was a Curlew which dropped in one evening. February is the typical month where we get this species but it can be suprisingly hard to connect with unless you happen to be there when one drops in.
Curlew on the floods
Next onto gulling, which is serving up the usual mix of good county gulls. We've had a number of Caspian Gulls this month of various ages and an adult Mediterranean Gull which is has been putting in a regular appearance in the roost along with a supporting cast of plenty of Yellow-legged Gulls.
|3w Caspian Gull courtesy of Thomas Miller|
|Above and below, a couple of 1w Caspian Gulls, courtesy of Thomas Miller|
On the wildfowl front where last month's heady excitment of the American Wigeon was not reprised with that star bird instead relocating to Otmoor. So we've had to be content with the usual species. There have been up to 12 Shelduck, up to 5 Egyptian Geese and up to 31 Pintail in amongst the numerous Wigeon and Teal.
It's been quiet on the raptor front though a regular 1w Peregrine has been hunting over the floods.
Onto passerines where last month's 3 allotment hedge Chiffchaffs have swollen in number considerably and now include no less than two Siberian Chiffchaffs. Could one be last year's Sibe chiffy returning - who knows? There are at least 10 Siberian Chiffchaffs in the county at the moment which is pretty good! Maybe they are going the way of Yellow-browed Warblers in starting to view the UK as an over-wintering location rather than just heading south.
|Siberian Chiffchaff: above Ben Sheldon & below Matthew Lloyd|
|The female Stonechat|
There is one more passerine record to report, a totally left-field record of a Willow Tit seen briefly in Warnborough road. This is such an unlikely location for this species which is now unfortunately no longer resident in this county that, had it not been myself who saw and heard it, I wouldn't have believed it. Truly a "bonkers" record, but part of what makes birding such a fascinating pastime.