Thursday, 17 May 2012

Back Passage?

Dan here.

Although it could be considered the back end of the passage period for hirundines, today's visit turned up more sand martins than any other day this spring.

To begin with, there were seven or eight as part of an impressive aerial assembly over Freeman's Pools which also comprised 15 house martins, 50 swallows and 60 swifts.

This gathering dispersed as the rain eased up just before noon, but at half past one I noticed a pronounced northward push of sand martins (45) and swallows (40) in ten minutes over Stodday picnic area.

At 2PM, 25+ of these migrating sand martins had found Freeman's Pools, where they were the only hirundine present, as a locally notable 18 house martins were feeding over the Wildfowler's Pools.

In aberrant pigmentation news, this more or less entirely sandy-pink starling was eclipsed by a lesser whitethroat with a mottled white mantle which proved harder to photograph.

I suspect the striking starling was recently fledged- this would explain why we haven't clocked it before- and there were several juveniles around today.

Other young seen included a family of dunnocks, some quite independent robins and two lots of long-tailed tits.

In contrast, the breeding season hadn't yet begun for two wheatears and a whimbrel which still have some way to go. Judging by the amount of racket it was making, the sedge warbler at the Western end of Freeman's Pools has yet to attract a mate.

In the non-breeder category, an immature male goldeneye (presumably the same as last month's) was seen, and two lame pink-footed geese are still on the river. I hoped these geese aren't too tormented by zugunruhe.

Eight eiders were on the estuary where the pylons cross.


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