The past few days have seen quite an arrival of spring migrants at coastal sites here in the northwest. Have a look at the blogs for Bardsey, Fleetwood, Heysham, Hilbre and Walney observatories to see what I've missed whilst working! I managed to get out this morning for a couple of hours before work again and at first light I didn't think I was going to see a great deal. I had 3 oktas cloud cover with a cold 15-20 mph NNW wind. I didn't expect any or many grounded migrants, but hoped for a bit of vis.
I headed to the southern end of the obs and worked the farm fields next to the coast. My first birds were a Willow Warbler and a singing Whitethroat. As the morning warmed up I had a further five Willow Warblers and another Whitethroat. I thought the Willow Warblers were probably left over from yesterday's fall. The only other grounded migrants I had were a Wheatear on the sea wall and a Grasshopper Warbler 'reeling' from the dunes.
As I headed towards the sea wall a female Merlin shot through heading low north and it was at this point that I thought that there is always something to look at and even if I didn't see anything else a Merlin before breakfast would do for me! The only other raptor I had was a Peregrine ridge soaring the school buildings and then suddenly it dived and chased after a pigeon and I lost sight of it.
There was some vis this morning and everything was heading north in to the wind. Linnets were the main feature and I recorded 184 heading north. Other species on vis included 68 Goldfinches, 80 Swallows, 24 Meadow Pipits, 12 Alba Wags, a Reed Bunting, seven Redpolls, 15 House Martins and four Siskins.
I had cracking views of two dark morph Arctic Skuas heading north over the beach. They were really close in and looked awesome in the crisp morning light. I telephoned Ian who I knew was at the scar to let him know that they would pass him very close, in the hope that he could manage a snap or two. Also on the sea I had eight Common Scoters, a Velvet Scoter, six Sandwich Terns, two Arctic Terns, three Gannets, eight Manx Shearwaters, six Auk sp., 400 Knots and 20 Ringed Plovers.
So, not an amazing morning but there was something to look at. It's going to be cold again tomorrow with a stiff northerly wind so perhaps another vis rather than grounded morning. I'll let you know.
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