Thursday, 11 August 2016

Shalford patch diary, July and early August

It's been a quiet few weeks on the patch, hence the lack of blog posts, but there have been a few signs that autumn is on its way. It never makes me particularly popular with non-birding friends when I mention the A word at this time of year, but there's no denying the fact that the year is now turning.
Rainbow over Broadford Marsh
Aside from a steady south-westerly push of Swifts throughout the latter half of July, the first sure sign of return passage at Shalford came on the evening of the 12th when a Green Sandpiper dropped down onto Broadford Marsh during a rain shower. Only my second patch record this year after one in January. I really am hoping for something a bit rarer on this part of the patch at some point, if only it wouldn't keep drying out! At this point St Catherine's Pool is looking the best bet for a passing wader to drop in for a while.
Green Sandpiper (honest!)
 Fast forward a couple of weeks and I heard the first returning Willow Warbler 'huu-weet'-ing just downstream from Broadford Bridge on 2nd August, followed by another or the same one a little way south-west of the bridge the following evening, and at least a couple in the same area on the evening of the 10th. Also adding an autumnal feel to my visit on the 3rd was an eclipse drake Teal on St Catherine's Pool - my first patch Teal since 19th April, and a sure sign of colder days ahead, albeit a little way off yet.
As you'd expect for the time of year there are now juvenile birds all over the patch, from Moorhens to Kestrels to Green Woodpeckers. One unfortunate young Moorhen fell victim to a Sparrowhawk on 21st July. Also of note recently were the adult and two juvenile Peregrines noisily flying over the patch early on 11th July. Mute Swans have returned to the river after successfully breeding on Shalford village pond. There's a lone sub-adult bird now hanging around at St Catherine's while a family group of two adults and two young were just upstream of Broadford Bridge on 31st July. Sand Martins have been pretty much a constant sight right through the breeding season, albeit in small numbers, usually hawking over Broadford Marsh or St Catherine's Lock. I don't know of any local breeding sites so it would be interesting to know the origins of these birds.
Mute Swans
Kestrel, juvenile
I've been mainly visiting the patch early morning the past few weeks as it fits better around work etc, but have been trying to make at least one evening visit a week, especially now the days are getting shorter again. On one such visit on 5th July it was good to see one of the local Barn Owls out hunting over Broadford Marsh, the first one I've seen here for a while.

On 7th July lengthsman Rob Craig messaged to say he'd just heard a Grasshopper Warbler reeling a little way downstream from St Catherine's Lock. Unfortunately I wasn't able to catch up with it either that day or the next, but still a great record - the first record for the area since one Rob heard at Broadford Marsh three years ago.

Gulls and geese are starting to move again after a bit of a midsummer lull. Early on 10th August singles of Egyptian Goose and Greylag Goose flew south/south-west along with a couple of dozen Canadas. Hopefully the coming weeks will bring something a bit rarer.

A few more shots from the past few weeks:

Grey Herons
Speckled Wood
Small Copper
Red Admiral

No comments:

Post a Comment