Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Migrants Migrants, Everywhere......

......Some are common, and some are rare! As in Black-Winged Stilt rare! Apparently the word had been around for a few hours on Birdguides before any of us knew about it, and it didn't take long for us to finish our jobs and get onto the reserve once the news filtered down. And what a cracking bird.... This is a UK first for me, and having seen them in Southern France already where they are common they look equally as spectacular here. As can be seen in the photo below, it towers above even largish waders like this Ruff! The bird was wonderfully showy in the evening as it made its way around the reserve feeding and being harassed by gulls!

Black-Winged Stilt, Himantopus himantopus with Ruff, Philomachus pugnax 

Black-Winged Stilt, Himantopus himantopus

There are also plenty of other migrants around the reserve at the moment, some here to stay and some just moving through. The two Turtle Doves are still purring away in the hedgerow and sometimes in the garden (!)  and a Cuckoo is heard most mornings, it must be said while I am lying in bed; what a luxury! There are at least two pairs of Common Terns around Frampton and plenty more at Freiston, and all our usual migrant warblers are in full voice. The odd Little Gull and Garganey are putting in appearances, as are Common and Green Sandpipers. Another nice arrival was the first Wood Sandpiper of the year at Frampton on Monday, another lovely little wader, which at this time of year I believe is best described as "Spangly." There is a very small breeding population in the Scottish Highlands, but most of them make there way to subarctic wetlands in Europe of Asia, so who knows where this one is headed!

Common Tern, Sterna hirundo

Wood Sandpiper, Tringa glareola

And now for some resident breeders that are both on the UK Red List for species of conservation concern, and both for the same reasons; Corn Bunting and Yellowhammer. While they may not be rare in terms of population size, both these species have suffered over a 50% decline in their breeding population in the last 30 years, due to agricultural intensification. Both species are ground-nesting farmland birds, and as such have suffered greatly at the hands of machinery and destruction of suitable nesting sites. There is potential for a brighter future though as agricultural schemes encourage farmers to spare a little land for wildlife, and where these schemes are in place the results are promising, like around our reserve! It is a real treat to be able to go out and see these birds singing away!

Yellowhammer, Emberiza citrinella

Corn Bunting, Emberize calandra

And finally, I was lucky enough to visit the Farne Islands on Saturday and get very close to one of the more remarkably adorned birds we have on our coastlines in this country, the Shag! What a beauty!!

Shag, Phalacrocorax aristotelis

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