End of Winter Update

My end of February update has rather slipped and become instead an end of winter update. There are definite signs of spring in the air with the first migrants starting to appear in the county though the Meadow has yet to have any. Still it's been a reasonable period since my last update at the end of January.

Starting with waders, as a bit of early end of season movement gets underway, at last we've got something to report here. The stand-out highlight was a record of 3 Avocet that dropped in for a few hours along the north shore. This species is a bit less than annual though we've managed them in four of the last five years. The usual time for them is late winter or early spring so this record is fairly typical.

The three Avocet were rather distant and conditions were murky so this is best photo I could manage

Apart from that we've had up to 3 Oystercatchers, up to 67 Dunlin, up to 69 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Redshank and a pair of Curlew. So, after a rather lean wader winter, things have at last been getting up to speed. The Great White Egret has been hanging out still. It is often hidden around the northern end of Burgess Field though sometimes strays out onto the floods themselves.

Digiscoped videograb of the Great White Egret

It's been a rather quiet end of season for gulls. We've had the usual 1st winter Caspian Gull and a fly-through 2nd winter as well as a few Yellow-legged Gulls. An adult Mediterranean Gull roosted several days in a row before moving on. Just recently the spring Common Gull passage has begun with up to 250 of this species being seen in recent evenings.

On the duck and goose front it's been pretty much the usual suspects. We've had the Barnacle Goose flock on occasions though they have been less prevalent than in previous years. In what has been a very lean winter in the county for Goosander we've managed to have a few birds fairly regularly. When the floods have been more extended there have been up to four Great Crested Grebes. The spring Shelduck gathering is well underway with up to 11 birds seen recently. Finally, on occasion we've been getting excellent Pintail counts with 56 birds counted at the most.

On the passerine front the two Siberian Chiffchaff are still being seen on occasion, though less frequently than earlier in the seaon. Siskin numbers have been good with some reasonably sized flocks in the trees along the canal. Up to 6 Redpoll have been seen in the Trap Grounds area. A male Cetti's Warbler has been visiting the Trap Grounds reedbed on and off throughout the winter. Talking of the Trap Grounds, one or two Water Rail have been heard in the reedbed. It's been quiet on the raptor front though a pair of Peregrines is a nice record.

The unringed Siberian Chiffchaff, courtesy of Joe Woodman

Looking forward, we've coming up to the best birding of the year for the Meadow with April being when there is most action. We can expect the first Little Ringed Plover and Sand Martins any day now and Wheatear should be soon as well. It's an exciting time of year!

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