It was a fortnight of two halves here at Saltholme. The first was dominated by northern and easterly winds which created unfavourable conditions for bird migration. However on the 13th April the winds swung round to a southerly direction allowing summer migrants to flood into the UK.
The rare Lesser Scaup kept eager visitors on their toes as it toured around the reserve, however by the end of this period it looked to have settled on the Allotment Pool. A pair of Greater Scaup remained on East Saltholme providing a fantastic opportunity to compare the two Scaup species. April’s WeBS count was undertaken on the 7th, the survey highlighted the large scale departure of many of our wintering species like Wigeon, although Coot numbers were still pretty high for the time of year.
This pair of stunning Black-necked Grebes arrived on 17th April (Many Thanks to Ian F for the photograph).
From the 13th April summer migrants started to arrive on the reserve with many species at least two weeks later than last year. Swallows, Sand Martins and House Martins could be found in reasonable numbers hawking over most of the water bodies by the 15th, an early Swift was sighted over the Visitor Centre (15th), Chiffchaff could be heard singing from most of the hedgerows, a Willow Warbler was at Haverton Gate (13th), good numbers of Yellow, Pied and White Wagtails could be found on the wet grassland, 11x Wheatear were feeding in the Fire Station Field (16th) and a female Common Redstart was observed in the Wildlife Watchpoint Hedgerow (17th).
The first Yellow Wagtail of the year was sighted on the 13th (Many Thanks to Ian F for the photograph).
It was an excellent week for wading birds as spring passage kick started with the following species, 3x Avocet (Saltholme West, 17th), 2x Little Ringed Plover (Main Lake, 14th), 8x Ringed Plover (Back Saltholme, 16th), 18x Dunlin (Saltholme West, 17th), 1x Green Sandpiper (Fire Station Field, 13th-16th), 1x Common Sandpiper (Main Lake, 15th-17th), 1x Spotted Redshank (Saltholme Pools Hide, 16th-18th), 5x Black-tailed Godwit (Back Saltholme, 18th), 2x Whimbrel (15th) and 1x Jack Snipe (Back Saltholme, 16th).
On 17th April the first Common Tern of the year was sighted, surprisingly it was 7 days earlier than last year! (Many Thanks to Chris S for the photograph).
Other notable sightings included, a passage Osprey (15th), a cream crowned Marsh Harrier (5th, 7th and 15th), Arctic Tern (Allotment Pool, 13th-14th), 3x Dark-Bellied Brent Goose (wet grassland, 13th), 1x Common Buzzard (over, 11th) and 2x Grey Partridge.
This Little Egret was still managing to eat well despite its deformed bill ( Many Thanks to Renton Charman for the photograph).