I have structured my week so that I get one birding day/mothing evening every three days. Well that was the plan. Wednesday we can forget. Thursday, however, was amazing. And that's despite virtually no birding effort.
The first bird to make itself known was a Meadow Pipit which called from above my driveway as I prepared to face the challenge of self-isolating at Morrisons. Not so surprising. However, late in the afternoon I stepped into the garden for a breath of fresh air and looked up to see not one, not two, but three Peregrines circling high over the garden. Thirty seconds of panic followed as I dashed back in, grabbed my camera, and shot out of the front door. I quickly re-found them and managed a record shot or two.
Lets turn to the evening. A lot of birders have invested in a nifty bit of kit called Nocmig. As I understand it, this records sounds and supplies a graphic trace of any birds calling as they fly over at night. The results being reported have been amazing. For example recorders across the north of England and some in the Midlands recorded the sounds made by Common Scoters flying over the night of April 2/3. I, however, do not own a Nocmig recorder, and have no immediate plans to get one. So when I stepped outside at around 21.10 to look at the moon and the stars I was not expecting to hear the Oystercatcher which piped its call notes several times from over the houses to the east. This was a bonafide garden tick.
Oystercatchers, it must be said, have taken to Arrow Valley Lake in recent years. So I am guessing this was one of its birds.
Friday morning was to be my maximum effort birding day. I was later up than I intended, but was still in the garden for 07.00. The day was to bring me 32 species, and add five more to the lockdown list, one of which was a full garden tick.
The first new one was a Great Spotted Woodpecker. It bounced away to the south, but is a fairly regular species here. The next bird was much more unexpected, not so much for what it was, but for what it was doing. A Skylark appeared over the garden, quite low, in full song, within seconds of a Peregrine, flying across from the east. I do see and hear the odd Skylark in the autumn and winter, but never singing. My guess is that the presence of the Skylark and the Peregrine within seconds of one another was not a coincidence, and that the lark probably followed the Peregrine from farmland 800 metres away, and was mobbing it through song.
The third new bird for the year was rather less satisfying, even though it was a garden tick. I heard the call of a Linnet and managed to get on it as it hurried to the north confirming it was small and brown and therefore not a Greenfinch, which has a somewhat similar flight call. I would guess that this was a bird which was migrating back north, as the only local flock I know of is at Morton Bagot. In fact a singing Greenfinch did pipe up later in the morning, but this is a bird I know to hold a territory in the Close.
Also definitely migrating was a flock of 30 Fieldfares which headed directly overhead in a north-easterly direction. The final new bird for the lockdown list was a singing Chiffchaff. I've been hearing these in the last few days at Morrisons, and at a visit to the pharmacy at Matchborough, so the distant song elicited the response "about time too" rather than the fist pump brought about by the earlier offerings. Other birds of note were nine more Meadow Pipits, two Chaffinches, three Redwings all heading either north or east, and the local Blackcap still in full voice.
The moth trap went out, but temperatures plunged to three degrees overnight so my expectations of the contents this morning were not high. Before I return to that however, there are more birds to discuss. My early start this morning, aimed at processing moths before the Robins beat me to it, produced vindication of my theory that Little Egrets may fly over regularly from Arrow Valley Lake before I usually get up. This time I was ready for it.
I also added three more species; a pair of Mallard flew around, a Jay squawked from somewhere to the south, and an even more distant Green Woodpecker yaffled to the east of the garden.
So the bird additions since my last post are:
36. Meadow Pipit
39. Great Spotted Woodpecker
46. Green Woodpecker
Meanwhile, back at the moth trap, my paltry total this morning was just three moths: Common Quaker, Hebrew Character, and Early Grey (new for year).
5. Early Grey
With the weather set to warm up this weekend, there should be a chance that the next posting will contain a few butterflies and no doubt more moths.