Thursday, 20 May 2010

Arctic Circlers

Late afternoon visit. SW 0-2, some hazy sunshine.

It's nice to think that despite some local indicators of  high Summer (a small build-up of non-breeding black-headed gulls, an increase in Freeman's Wood motorcycling) that for some birds, Spring has hardly begun.

In a couple of hours I was pleased to find a variety of passage migrants.

My highlight was a flock of 16 waders, still en route to breed in the the far North. I picked them up in silhouette as they circled high over the estuary, and I fancied them to be ringed plovers, a rather scarce bird for Aldcliffe.

After a while they dropped and settled on the mud, and I found I was half right. A passage party of eight ringed plovers and eight dunlins. I can't recall seeing any late Spring passage here for either species.

A far commoner sight in May is whimbrel, and three were seen flying upstream, tittering as they went.

Songbirds are still in transit too, with a female whinchat and a sedge warbler near Frog Pond, a large wheatear (most likely heading for Greenland) and 3 northbound sand martins.

Could it be too late for blackcaps to still be arriving on the patch? Three males were singing furiously in 'new' spots today. Last week's garden warbler seems to have moved on.

In terms of long-staying potential breeders, the little-ringed plovers and gadwalls are still hanging in.


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