It’s been another excellent few days out on patch this week with Spring migrants continuing to build in number. An influx of Willow Warblers in particular from Tuesday onwards has meant that we now only need open a window to hear their distinctive calls with the bushes up on Gopa Hill practically dripping with feeding birds. One in particular caught our attention as it did a very passable impression of a Hummingbird before vanishing from sight.
As hoped for we also found our first Swallow passing through up on Bryn-bach-Common and presumably the same bird down in the valley a little later. Any celebrations were however short lived as what must rank as the rarest species on my patch put in a totally unexpected appearance. Ripples down on the new pond were its calling card with the bird itself swimming into view a few moments later to smiles and cheers all round. I doubt the humble Mallard has ever had quite such a reception. If there was ever a sighting though to encapsulate the Patchwork Challenge then this must surely be it as to be honest I probably wouldn’t have given him more than a passing glance if we’d been birding anywhere else. Out on my predominantly upland patch however a Mallard is absolute gold and finally confirms my hopes for this newly created habitat.
Also out and about were a few new year ticks from last week with both the Grey Wagtail and Pheasants still performing well. Interestingly the trio of Reed Buntings were again in exactly the same area up on the Common raising the possibility that they may be nesting nearby. Already well on their way are at least two pairs of Stonechats with both males calling to each other from various power cables and poles (who needs bushes). All evaded the camera, again, unlike this tuneful Song Thrush which serenaded us just as the sun was sinking down behind the hills.
Fast forward to Friday and yet another new tick came in the shape of a Great Black-backed Gull drifting up from the estuary. More big stuff was to be found on Gopa Hill with the tagged Red Kite and a pair of displaying Ravens both giving exceptional views. Being surrounded by these masters of the sky is definitely the perfect anecdote to a stuffy day in the office.
As we left a short snippet of song sounded suspiciously like our first Whitethroat of the year but as it didn’t call again I can’t be sure. No prizes for guessing our target species for next week.
2015: 57 / 2014: 64