As my brother and also my partner Masha know I tend to have a saying 'the rain i'll bring em down', that is the passage migrants! And its true, I've seen it time and time again that heavy rain and wind in the right direction will always bring something in, even at times birds that you didn't expect. However this time my wader predictions on the last blog that a bit of a SE blow and front gave the chance that it would bring a few waders in was for once bang on.
What I didn't quite expect was the four black terns that arrived at Singleton and stayed for most of the day and evening, but it was all part of a massive and spectacular tern and wader 'dump' right across the UK - migration in action, you can't beat it! (photo's by Chris Barnes with many thanks from me for sending so quickly)
These days black tern are a scarce visitor to Blacktoft so it was nice to get to see em
It all started the evening before really when there was a whiff of migration in the air with 8 curlew on Ousefleet all excited and wanting to go east - something quite unusual for here in May. But when I checked Ousefleet in the morning there was only ruff and spotted redshank - but at that time the rain hadn't really started!
By the time I went to check the Koniks and give them their evening feed the rain had eased but not stopped, but as I got some water from the trough the adult spoonbill flew over my head and towards Ousefleet. So when I finished I went to have a look and here's what I found.
But it was the waders that were impressive - 5 superb red knot almost in full summer plumage, 9 dunlin and a single sanderling, 2 greenshank, and 2 spotted redshank, plus snipe, lapwings and oystercatchers.
Knot in summer plumage are like gold dust at Blacktoft!
Here's a bit of video as the light was so poor in the rain!
And sanderling (with dunlin) are also irregular now as they tend to like to go over to Alkborough - but where are the spring little stints? They are becoming so rare these days
And another bit of video this time of the sanderling
This morning I went up in anticipation but before looking in Ousefleet hide I had to shepherd the ponies and cattle, not all surprises are birds! (the bull was meant to be infertile!)
However, what was a surprise was the sound of calling turnstone and then out of the sky dropped 14 of them in a flock heading at speed westwards, and also about 3 female wheatears, no doubt grounded by the inclement weather.
Are these from the Greenland race or just late British birds?
When I got round to looking in Ousefleet hide a careful look around revealed 2 spotted redshank, 3 greenshank, 18 summer plumage dunlin, a male ruff, 6 redshank, 2 oystercatchers, 3 snipe and the odd lapwing plus off course about 15 avocets. With the rain Ousefleet flash looks in fantastic condition for spring waders, who knows what might turn up with a bit of southerly air flow?
Greenshank in the murk
Summer plumage dunlin - always nice to see
Turnstone flock - honest!
But it is cold for the time of year and many birds are struggling particularly the hirundines - these poor swallows and sand martin seemed just exhausted this morning while the yellow wagtails seem to be appreciating the food kicked up by the koniks hooves. Lets hope for a bit of better weather although I suppose without the rain yesterday we wouldn't have had such an amazing 24hrs!
Yellow wagtail on konik dung this morning
Swallows and sand martin
And a closer look at them a little while later
With all this foul weather there has unsurprisingly been no reports of the Montagu's harrier - I suspect sh'e out hunting off site quite a lot but still around and should hopefully show better when the weather improves - in the mean time here's a picture of her sent to us by Graham Catley over at Alkborough.
And with all the wet about there is a bit of a spring emergence of fungi - this was on Horseshoe meadow
There is also a nice bit of ragged robin flowering now
And best of all this southern marsh orchid just starting to flower - a common orchid in the UK which can be seen in many places but its great to think that a field that was intensive arable farmland since probably at least WWII can be converted into a diverse flower meadow that will in the future have species such as orchids flourishing in it!
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