The Joys of Spring

Date: 2014-05-08 10:44:53 | Category: Bird Watching | Author: Neill Hunt
April and May are probably my favourite months of the year for Bird-watching, the winter subsides, the light night are in and new birds start to arrive for the summer. I spend a lot of time on my local patch, a reclaimed tip that has been planted up with various trees, shrubs and other plants. The area has been landscaped and although only small it provides several micro habitats that draw the birds in. I affectionately call it KBO (Kew bird observatory) though its official name is Newlands country park.

It’s several miles from the coast, so it’s not what I would call a ‘migrant hotspot’ but, it does turn up some surprisingly good birds. The beauty of having an under-watched ‘secret’ patch is that you get to know what is ‘normal’ and what is surprising or unusual.

On my patch, which is inland of Southport in Merseyside, a bird like Tufted Duck is incredibly rare, just 1 seen in 3 years!

Spring is great for counting migrants and speculating what might arrive on my beloved site. Last year was incredible with no fewer than 11 Redstarts, 6 Grasshopper Warblers, Great White Egret, 6 Little Egrets, a couple of Spotted Flycatchers, Whinchats, Wheatears, Tree Pipits in good numbers and 2 very brief Lesser Whitethroats.

This year, a change, not one Redstart yet, but 3 new species for the site……Yellow Wagtail, Common Sandpiper and 2 Ring Ouzels.

Ring Ouzel

Whitethroat numbers peaked at 37 on Bank Holiday Monday, 7 Grasshopper Wardblers and I was finally blessed to have a long staying (7 days) Lesser Whitethroat which shared a fine patch of brambles close to the cemetery with a vixen fox and her 2 young cubs….fabulous.

Lesser Whitethroat

Everyone should have a local patch, they are so rewarding to watch, you even start to care for them! I set up a feeding station each winter in one of the small copses and have a foldaway chair which I leave onsite. I record everything I see, counting breeding birds, passage birds, non breeders, mammals, Butterflies and day flying moths.

So far this year Ring Ouzel has been THE bird, but to hear the cracking song of a Lesser Whitethroat daily for a week takes some beating, it even allowed me to get a couple of photograph.

Lesser Whitethroat

I’ve posted 1 photo of the male Ring Ouzel (sorry it’s behind a 6 foot metal fence!) and 2 photo’s of the Lesser Whitethroat.

What will I find on my patch next week, who knows?

Do you have a patch to yourself….what have you seen