The first spring surveys need to be done in the period 1st April to mid-May, and my three surveys are all done.
I have one Bird Atlas tetrad which I did on a pleasant Thursday a couple of weeks ago, at least it started out pleasant then clouded over and if I hadnt been striding out through the farmland I’d have got pretty cold as I had only gone out in a polo shirt! There were plenty of birds in the woods, lots of evidence of nesting, and a whole load of blackcap in one corner, males all singing against each other to establish their patches, and females strutting round checking out the talent on display! I also saw a nuthatch sitting on top of a cherry tree (in blossom) calling against another echoing away across a lawn into the woods. Just before I finished I heard my first willow warbler of the season, calling rather plaintively in a covert in the farmland. I expect he’s got company by now.
A few days earlier I’d done my early morning breeding bird survey at Weston Longville, which was a pleasant morning’s walk. Lots of birds in the village itself, so many that it was hard to keep up with them, but it was quite quiet in the woods along the road in the second half. I wonder if it will be a different story in late May when I do the second visit?
Today I did the other breeding bird survey at Winterton, which I set out for on a very promising sunny morning, the sun looming red and large just above the fields, but it disappeared into cloud by the time I got to my destination. However the sea mist held off, just about, and with the sun lighting the mist and clouds out at sea it looked just like one of those paintings by Turner. I’d always thought they were quite fanciful but now I know you really can get light like that! There were plenty of skylark, yellowhammer and meadowpipit on the dunes as usual, and I was delighted to see a black redstart, female, whose tell-tale flick of the tail was really the only thing that made me confident of my identification as she was against the light till she flew across me. There was not much on the beach, a couple of ringed plover and some gulls, mainly flying. The little tern weren’t back yet, although I had hoped they might be, as our common tern are already back at their breeding lakes inland. There were a couple of swallows flying around though, so summer is practically here.