Monday, 4 April 2011

At last some signs of spring

Spring has finally sprung here on the coast, though I wish it would jump a bit higher.
A thorough search of the Sandwich estate and area down the the Chequers this morning was hard going but overall quite rewarding.
The day started along the Haven and around the Oasis ( i.e. the paddocks immediately toward the sea from the Observatory) where it was immediately clear that some warblers have now moved in with several chiffchaffs, blackcaps and a lone willow warbler being found. On the non-warbler front 2 brambling were heard calling from the Oasis then seen to fly north west and seen/heard were the resident tits, chaffinch, greenfinch and wrens.
The Elms in contrast was near silent with only one or two chiffchaffs and a few tits obvious though as we left a sparrow hawk cruised overhead.
The sea front had some siskin and chaffinch moving north but the main migration was provided by linnets. These went through in dribs and drabs most of the morning though never in large numbers with ~ 100 being seen in total.
The walk along the beach to the Chequers provided the first 2 wheatears of the day with 3 more being seen on the turf field adjacent to Restharrow Scrape.  Also along the beach were the resident skylarks and mippits and another sparrowhawk and 2 kestrels were seen.
Restharrow had no new-comers and a lot of the ducks seem to be disappearing – only 2 wigeon are left now.
I had to go home for lunch but afterwards I popped down the rifle range at Kingsdown and found a reasonably cooperative wheatear who seemed to have made friends with a rock pipit. No sign of any raptors today on the cliffs.
Yesterday afternoon a mandarin duck had been seen (and photographed ) on Restharrow so at ~4.00pm I decided to return and see whether it would show again. Well it didn’t but on the way I found a ring ouzel in the bushes just north of the Cinque Ports Golf Club – the same bushes that held the red backed shrike last year.
I was driving along the ancient highway when I spotted it but an emergency stop saw me out of the car and making my way back towards it camera in hand when 2 horse riders trotted past the bushes. Needless to say the ouzel disappeared. I returned to the car and backed up to survey the area using the car as a hide but it didn’t show again. After 20 minutes I gave up and drove to the scrape seeing  3 more wheatears in the fields south of the Chequers.
Not a bad day overall though a picture of the ouzel would have been nice.

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