Thursday, 11 April 2013

First signs of Spring this morning

Thanks to the guys at the local computer store, they've managed to salvage my laptop from a virus that hit it big time on Monday - hence the lack of Icelandic updates but they'll come very soon. It was, to be fair, quite nice not to be laptop dependent and it was a good bit of rehab for me. Shame the local birding wasn't that great, with just a Grey Plover at Crossness on Monday the only bird of note (I should have known better to have wasted time going to Kelsey Park to look for a reported 1st-winter Ring-billed Gull on Tuesday, but couldn't resist the larid draw so close to home).

And so, having had a relaxing day with my parents in Hampshire yesterday, I decided I'd go the opposite direction to the current birding abyss of southeast London and stayed the night at Portland Bird Observatory. Very pleasant it was too, and it was even more pleasant to actually feel as though the winter may almost be over.

After arising and hearing that there was little in the garden first thing (just an Arctic Skua past through offshore), I headed out and did the circuit from the obs, past The Pulpit Inn and to Portland Bill itself. It wasn't a mega fall, but a male Redstart was really pleasant as was a female Black Redstart. There were at least a dozen Wheatears, and also a couple of Willow Warblers in amongst the flycatching Chiffchaffs. All very pleasant stuff.
male Firecrest at Portland Bird Observatory, Dorset 11th April 2013 - nice to see the 'fire' in its crest!
Back at the observatory, the ringers were decent enough to show me and others a couple of Firecrests - the first I'd ever seen in the hand. Off to Reap Lane and a half-hearted search for yesterday's Hoopoe with no luck, though another couple of Black Redstarts (including a stonking adult male) and umpteen Chiffchaffs and the odd Wheatear felt things were moving. I also got the feeling that Swallows were up for heading north with 25 or so going through in pulses, and in amongst them the odd Sand Martin too. Once again, just good to see some migrants and with the predicted rise in temperature this weekend perhaps the bottleneck further south may just be cleared even more.

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