Monday, 30 March 2009

Back in the Fens, 30.3.09

Back home for Easter now, arriving home yesterday evening. Last night I was so keen to get on the patch that I dropped everything as soon as I arrived and got amongst it down the pits. Highlights were a White Wagtail, c.30 Sand Martins and 2 Little Ringed Plovers - my first migrants of the year. Other bits and bobs included 12 remaining Goldeneye, a Pink-footed Goose, and a few Oystercatchers.

Today (30/3) my first stop was Dogsthorpe Tip, where there were no gulls due to the use of falconry to discourage birds from visiting the site. As a result I quickly moved on to Tanholt Pits, where a Glaucous Gull had been seen the previous evening. PBC stalwart Brian Stone was already present and had seen nothing of note. I did little better than him. My first singing Chiffchaffs (three of them) were heard, and a Green Sandpiper was nervously bombing round the newer workings. My first Brimstone butterfly of 2009 was busily working its way round the more mature areas of the site.

I moved on to the Nene Washes; first stop was the High Wash which held plenty of Wigeon and a couple of Oystercatchers, but little else. Eldernell was much more inspiring, revealing my first Wheatear (a female) and Swallow of the year, the latter passing east along Moreton's Leam. The wash itself was full of Wigeon and Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits (700+):

Big chunk of limosa islandica.

Eldernell at its early spring finest.

Other birds here included a Ruff, c.10 Pintail remaining and Marsh Harriers, which seemed like they were in every patch of sky you looked at.

The weather was gradually deteriorating, with the wind picking up and clouds rolling in. I decided to call it quits after a visit to March Farmers, about two miles downstream of Eldernell. I was surprised to find the wash still extensively flooded; at this rate it could be brilliant for waders this spring. There were c.50 Tufted Ducks and c.25 Pochards, but no sign of last weekend's Ring-necked Duck. It could have been there though; some aythya were out of view or simply too distant. At least 10 Oystercatchers were also present, and about 20 Whooper Swans remained.

So, not the most productive of days but still nice to see a few migrants amongst the other signs that Spring is almost here.

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