My computer just crashed after I'd tried to post the blog for today, so you could get this once, twice, or not at all. I'm hoping the threat of hurling my laptop out the window will get it to behave this time though...
Two Swallows over the Loch today were a sure sign of summer, they were feeding with a small group of Sand Martins (first seen yesterday). A female Marsh Harrier was reported on Sunday (but no sign since) and, remarkably, a Swift was reported the same day. This would probably be the earliest ever Swift seen in the region, although the views were brief and the observer couldn't rule out the possiblity of it perhaps being a rarer swift species. No reason to think it was except that some rarer Swifts (Pallid and Alpine) do tend to arrive earlier than our more usual 'Common' Swift. Either way, there's been no further sightings.
The gulls are worth keeping an eye on - nothing of interest on the pools amongst them today, but probably a few hundred Black-headed and Common Gulls have called through during the day.
Lots of common wildfowl around, with some displaying (and a pair of Teal mating) and the Jackdaws on the island have started nest building inside a tern shelter again. Last year's outcome was so sad, I can't bring myself to type it again, but we'll be hoping for a more successful attempt this year.
At 5.20 this morning the team met up for one of the last goose counts for the season. Following on from the weather last week it was remarkably cold again but at least it was not raining.
Having been stuck at the north end counting point for most of this season - where I saw virtually no geese (9 out of a count of 63000 on one memorable day!) - I was pleased to move to the western count site as our regular counter was not free today.
In contrast to the start of the season when the geese dawdle in bed for half the morning today they were all business and by 5.30am the first ones were winking away past us.
Amazingly by 6.45am it was all over - we had 11300 going west from the reserve and the final count for the day was just under 12500. Not bad for April.
It meant I was able to get home in time to join my kids in the easter egg hunt around the house!
Finally feel like spring is on its way - the snow has stopped, the wind has calmed down and birds are trickling in.
Our first wheatear on the dunes this morning was a cracking male - always forget how attractive these birds are. Eslewhere a singing chiffchaff and aggressive shelducks are further prompts that spring is starting to happen. had a look round all the normal wader haunts and unsurprisingly no real evidence of breeding yet - it is going to be a late season this year. In 2009 we had already got at least 6 pairs on eggs by now.
As the seas were much calmer today had a quick glance off shore. Our scoter flock is still around - at least 85 birds now although as they keep diving it does make counting them rather tricky, checked the flock closely as a female surf scoter had been seen flying north off Aberdeen a couple of days ago but it was not in the flock. Our great northern diver flock is also still around with atleast 31 today. Other duck of note included several superb long tailed ducks.
Well at least the snow has stopped - I really do hope that this is the end of the winter weather as I have most definately had enough of it! Instead we have been replaced by some of the highest water levels I have seem this winter on the Savoch Low Ground. This has been met with disgust by our lapwings - anyone know of a supplier for snorkles for them as at the moment they will have to hold their breath for a long time if they want to hatch any eggs! Luckily we have plenty of time for both the water levels to drop and the birds to re nest.
Apart from moaning about the water level not much else has happened today. The team were out planting hedges - we are nearly there with well over 75% of the trees in and given the cold weather I am sure that we will get the rest in before they start to grow.
On the bird front the best of a very poor bunch today was two black tailed godwits - always nice to see.
Just to update on the grass front - our topper still has not re-appeared and so far have had no communication from the company who are working on it. never mind I have found another supplier of a different style machine that I will be looking at next financial year budgets allowing!
Surely the summer migrants that have made it up here so far must have been regretting it today as yesterday's horrid weather continued. This morning there were gales, rain and snow. The wildlife pond burst its banks, the entrance track started to flood, the visitor centre windows developed a leak and our field teacher who was leading the Nature Club tree planting event was snowed in at home (although unsurprisingly, no kids decided to brave the elements).
By the afternoon though, it was all change - the sun came out, the snow melted and the wind dropped to a light breeze - even high tide at the wildlife pond seemed to have passed! When the weather had improved enough to see anything there were a few birds around. The plantation held a reasonable number of Song Thrushes and Robins (almost certainly birds heading to northern Europe to breed) and a Chiffchaff.
Good number of wildfowl remain, including 14 Gadwall on the Visitor Centre pools (which have joined up into one big pool at the moment), but some are heading off. At six o'clock, just as I was leaving the office, 82 Whooper Swans took off from the Loch and headed north, trumpeting and bugling as they went - next stop Iceland? What a magnificent sight.
In recent years April has seen a good number of scarcer species amongst the arrivals of spring migrants - what will this year bring?