Monday 19 March 2018

The biting easterly returns

It was bitterly cold again over the weekend. Although temperatures didn't quite plummet as low as they did a fortnight ago, nor did the snow return, the brisk easterly wind was absolutely awful to be out in.

Nevertheless, it did produce a nice adult Little Gull over the wader pit at BLGP. I say wader pit, as things stand there won't be many waders on here this spring as water levels are probably a good two feet above what they were at this time last year. Hopefully it's not the end of this site but things are presently not looking too good.

Little Gull, Baston & Langtoft Pits, 18 March 2018. Note storm petrel impression in the second image.

The Long-tailed Duck has also returned to BLGP for a second spring. At least, we presume it's the same bird, first seen on Deeping High Bank in January 2017, then at Deeping Lakes before moving to BLGP in May of last year. It was back on the High Bank this January, before turning up at BLGP on 16th of this month. It's been favouring the same corner of the (ex-)wader pit ever since.

Long-tailed Duck, Baston & Langtoft Pits, 18 March 2018

Other recent birds have included two adult Whooper Swans, Dunlin, Peregrine, up to three Ravens, several Red Kites and a male Marsh Harrier.

In other, sadder news, I found several Mute Swan corpses under wires just north-east of the wader pit. The birds have been commuting between the pit and a rape field, where they are feeding. Unfortunately the wires were not fitted with deflectors and it's made a mess of at least five swans. I reported this to Western Power Distribution on Monday and, within hours, they'd sent a team down to fit reflectors. A hugely impressive response for which the swans (50+ still in the area) will no doubt be grateful! Every cloud has a silver lining, though, and the corpses have been attracting a variety of scavengers, including both Raven and Red Kite.

Red Kite eating Mute Swan, 17 March 2018. Not the strangest snack I've seen a kite eating here; in about 2006 I saw one eating the remains of a Barn Owl!

One of the dead Mute Swans below the offending wires, which have subsequently been fitted with hi-viz deflectors. Hopefully no more scenes like this.

Wednesday 7 March 2018

Red-throated Diver etc

An adult Red-throated Diver turned up in Peterborough during the cold weather last week, and I paid it a couple of visits. On my second visit, the bird spent its time exclusively floating motionless, closing its eyes, and I assumed it was a goner. It has since perked up and moved to Ferry Meadows, where it seems much healthier.

Red-throated Diver, Thorpe Meadows Rowing Lake, March 2018

Local birding has otherwise been reasonable enough, with a good passage of birds once the thaw set in, with species such as Pintail and Mediterranean Gull at BLGP and the returning adult Yellow-legged Gull at Deeping Lakes, which again seems paired with a Herring Gull.

 Raven, Baston & Langtoft Pits, 6 March

Adult Yellow-legged Gull, Deeping Lakes, 7 March

Thursday 1 March 2018

Birds in 'the beast'

This week has become progressively colder in Lincolnshire, with up to a foot of snow having fallen in places by yesterday evening and the temperature having not risen above freezing for three days now. The so-called "Beast from the East" (vomit) has really tightened its grip over the past 48 hours.

I've not had chance to do any proper birding yet this week due to work, but a few bits of note. First of all, a single Lesser Redpoll visited my mother's feeders on Monday afternoon, just as the first few flakes of snow began to fall.

By Tuesday, the first good snowfall started to concentrate birds. Temperatures recovered slightly as the sun came out and the unfrozen pits at Baston and Langtoft held good excellent numbers of birds, including over 500 Wigeon, 16 Snipe, and around 350 Lapwings (with a couple of Golden Plovers), as well as three Pink-footed Geese.

Northern Lapwings and a couple of European Golden Plovers on 27 February - these birds have since long departed as South Lincolnshire has become a freezer.

Today has been utterly bitter. Snow is drifting, covering and closing even the main roads. In some places it has drifted up to a metre deep - quite astonishing to see in Britain, particularly on the first day of March. I've been busy working and haven't had chance to get out birding, although I've been watching a male Reed Bunting busy around mum's feeders for much of the day and then a Fieldfare came in late afternoon to feed on the apples we put out.