26th March. Back in the Freezer.

At the back end off the last weekend things were starting to look up on the patch, a Rock Pipit on Sunday morning indicated that things were finally starting to move and with clag conditions predicted for Monday it could only get better.

Arriving on-site early Monday morning the only thing apparent was that the birds just weren't happening and after an hour I headed for the office for a day of desk bound drudgery. A few tweets from Jonny at Pugneys (though he too was at work) suggested that things were moving with Avocet, Black- tailed Godwit and Kittiwake all through there. The clag conditions continued through the day with Kittiwakes seemingly everywhere, except in Sheffield.  My planned 6 pm finish got cut to 4pm (thank you whoever came up with the idea of flexi time - surely a birder?).

Almost jogging from the bus , the fear that some bounder might get in before me and steal what was rightfully mine drove quickly to the two lakes. I needn't have worried no-one else was daft enough to venture out and there sat in the middle of the large lake in all its pure white headed glory was my target a cracking* adult Kittiwake.

*taking things into context Kittiwakes are as rare here as Med' Gulls

The good birds kept coming with 31 Whooper Swans, that I only just missed seeing from the bus, calling noisily as the cruised up and down the lake before heading off on the next leg of their north-bound journey.

Then, when things were going all spring like it suddenly plunged us back into deep winter.

I couldn't get out Saturday but made up for it with a 3 hour session the following morning. With a good six inches of snow covering the ground most of the birds had reverted to winter tactics. The previous territorial song flighting Sky Larks were back in small flocks and the Lapwings had given up strutting around the 'plains'.  As I walked through one of the small young plantations a Short-eared Owl took flight, immediately attracting attention from the Carrion Crows. Presumably a new bird as I hadn't seen any of the winter birds since January.

Given the weather conditions the chances of any true spring migrants seemed fairly unlikely so I was quite surprised when I picked up a couple of Little Ringed Plover walking around in the snow with a group of Ringed Plover and shortly after another two LRP's and a Jack Snipe flushed from the edge of the large lake was only my second on the patch. A Peregrine on the 'plains' was unbelievably my first of the year.  All in all not a bad few hours but a bit of sun wouldn't go amiss. Given the current weather forecast this could well be the first March that I haven't seen a Sand Main

No comments: