Monday, 17 March 2008


Sorry that's an awful pun!

Someone once said, I forget who something along the lines of "pleasure is the expected being unexpected"

Saturday was just such a day. I was just about to head off to Sand Bay when my neighbour rang, I'm in the mood for some sea air, do you fancy a walk along the beach? So before 8am, we found ourselves walking the full length of Sand Bay, nearly 3 miles back n forth. I hadn't walked the beach this year, and to be honest there wasn't much to report as the tide was right out. However as we approached where I usually stand by the marsh I spied a "white bum" flying ahead of me.

Instantly, a voice in my head said Wheatear (119). They'd been reported in the last few days, so I had a feeling they may be about, but as is always the case I wasn't out birding properly, so just had the binoculars, no camera, no scope - typical. We stopped and viewed from the beach and I could see at least 2 flying from perch to perch. Slowly walking in a wide arc, in total we saw 4 males and a female. One male inparticular was giving wonderful views, why didn't I have the camera? (probably as I was never a boy scout, so never prepared).

We were standing there watching the Wheatears, also I was pointing out Stonechat, Reed Bunting, Linnet and Skylark to my neighbour who is a beginner. I said, it's a shame there are no Martins about, as I haven't seen one yet this spring. We turned to leave and she said, is that a Swallow flying towards us? It wasn't but close call, a Sand Martin (120), and there were more, a small group of 11 had arrived at the beach as if by magic. These flew low back and forwards against where we were, one of which was actually a House Martin (121).

The arrival of that early summer migrant flock has to be one of the most magical things I've ever witnesed. From silence, and from nowhere, the Martins arrived, wheeling and twittering as they flew by, feeding alongside the shrubs, just feet from us. Then all of a sudden, they were off as soon as they'd arrived. I watched them flying north and they were gone, leaving the beach in silence again. To think they were over my head and a few weeks ago in Africa. Its just amazing to think they and the Wheatears travel so far, just to breed, and a place I know very well, has changed it's charecter with the arrival of the spring influx. Fair lifts the spirits, and even England won the Rugby.

On Sunday afternoon, a probably Whimbrel (122) across the mudflats. Tough call as I had to use the x60 eye lens with the light in front of me, but everything said Whimbrel (slightly smaller, darker head, though couldn't see stripes, bent rather than de-curved bill, shorter legs), rather than a juvenile Curlew, who also have shorter bills that their parents.

Other hightlights of the weekend were a wonderfull male Sparrowhawk perched on a fence post. I'd seen it hedge hopping as I drove along, lost it, turned a corner and there it was...yellow legs gleaming in the rain. I slowed the car and he stayed put for a while, but then off like the clappers. Further down that lane about 200-250 Fieldfares, presumably massing for their flight back north.

Winter moves into spring just in time for the Equinox


  1. How wonderful that you saw the Martins as you did. Some days are simply made glorious by the unexpected things you see.

  2. Indeed these sort of days don't happen by chance, i'm convinced of that. I'm just glad I didn't come across a bear as you did last year, may not be that happy with that encounter, apart from at a safe distance.