I've been away for a few days, nervously keeping an eye on the local Whatsapp Group. I need not have worried as spring has barely occurred around these parts. There have been good numbers of Wheatear, double figures on some days, and in fact before I left I managed 11 birds which is up there with my best counts ever. There has been a feeling of the flood gates needing to open, equally with migrants pitching up much further north, feelings of having been bypassed. After a couple of intense days at work today could not come round soon enough. Large falls at coastal watchpoints in the preceding days, early mist, a light breeze from the south east....surely today was the day?
I wasn't out quite as early I had hoped, a smidge of jet lag perhaps, but I was still striding through the Brick Pits well before 7am and hearing my first Whitethroat of 2023 shortly afterwards. A Lesser Whitethroat gave it's typical song, one of three in the vicinity of Long Wood - another year tick. Whitethroats were everywhere, there had been just one before I left last Wednesday. A trickle of Swallows came through, an invisible Yellow Wagtail called, there was a single Wheatear in the Skylark area and a trio of House Martins were over their breeding spot but overall it still seemed quiet. Louder perhaps, but a flood? Definitely not. A late afternoon male Ring Ouzel found by Nick was a bonus and the best bird of the day, and whilst twitching it a Buzzard flew over which surprised me by also being a year tick.
I gave it nearly six hours and five miles, a long patch visit by my standards, notching up 53 species which is pretty good for here. Six new birds but I have only surpassed 80 for the year which is frankly pathetic. I have a spreadsheet (no, really) that tells me that in 2021 I had reached 100 by this point in the year. Partly it is apathy, but actually there have just not been as many birds - the combined patch list total for the year is still under 100 at this point. But tomorrow is another day - there is rain about, and that may help things along. Let us see.
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