Sunday, 8 May 2011

A Swift Return

The first Swift of the year over our house appeared yesterday, 7th May. As we only moved here in March this year, this was also the first we’d ever had here. Interestingly, despite the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having, date was later than usual for this area. I had a look in my old journals and found that they usually arrived (or, at least, were spotted by me) in this area early in the first week of May. Here’s the entry from 29th April 2005:

Jenny and I were changing [our daughter] Rowan’s nappy in her room, and after some bad singing by me, Rowan did her first laugh! The warm sun was low in the sky and shining right into the room. I looked out of the window and caught the briefest of glimpses of two birds flying at speed over the house opposite. These were Swifts, with their familiar thin, semi-circular wings and forked tail, unmistakable, even without hearing their trademark screeching. I opened the window and could hear the buzzing-wheezing of a calling Greenfinch

Ahh, happy days. I was so moved, I even drew a picture of the scene (including the Swifts overhead and the Greenfinch in the tree):

 Swifts - the view from Rowan's room, 29th April 2005

Anyway, a few birders I’ve spoken to this week have also mentioned the low numbers of House Martin this year. I’ve only seen one myself so far, in Lincolnshire, on the English east coast. I was over there last Sunday, 1st May, twitching a Collard Pratincole at Immingham. I saw Swift, Swallow, House Martin and Sand Martin, all in the same view - for the first time, and what will possibly be the last time, this year.

As well as the fantastic Pratincole, I managed to add another bird to my UK on that trip: the Nightingale. While on holiday in southern Spain last summer, I enjoyed great view of them in the garden of our casa rural; but they’d so far eluded me in the UK. I’d heard that Whisby Nature Park, near Lincoln, was a great place to hear and (with patience) see Nightingales, so I popped down while I was in the area. I heard at least six singing (and oohing, cooing, rattling, whistling, nattering, warbling, and making all kinds of other noises) from the deep within dense brambles and hawthorns. After a couple of brief glimpses of a shy individual, I eventually got a wonderful prolonged view of a showy male belting out his song. Whisbly NP is probably the species’ most northerly stronghold in the UK, and well worth visiting, if only for these wonderful songsters.

My 2011 Year List was improved after a brief trip to Fairburn Ings RSPB yesterday morning. I went with photographer Paul Marfell, hoping to see a Common Crane that was on the reserve. Unfortunately, the Crane was hiding while we were there, but a calling Cuckoo in the Lin Dyke area and very tame Red-legged Partridge from the Pickup hide were the first I’d seen this year.

Red-legged Partridge, Fairburn Ings RSPB (Paul Marfell)

The Lin Dyke area in particular is great for warblers during Spring, with Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow and Grasshopper Warbler, and Common and Lesser Whitethroat all calling near the path.

Willow Warbler, Fairburn Ings RSPB (Paul Marfell)

With all these new birds, I've totted up my lists. So, for what it's worth, as of 8th May 2011, they stand at:
- British Life List: 268
- British 2011 Year List: 129
- Garden List: 21 (after only seven weeks at this address)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Nick, I managed to track you down to this Blog. Thanks for the comments on my Pratincole Picture. I had very good views of one in Cyprus this week down to 10 yards. Glad you got the Nightingales. If you want to see some of my Cyprus pics go to my blog

    Hope to meet again sometime. Cheers Russell
    P.S. I Like your Blog