After doing very little last weekend, when pretty much everything went wrong (apart from flushing a migrating Nightjar on a local walk), and a hideous wet, windy and cold week, it was good to get out today on a very early, still and clear morning (although it was still a bit parky). The mission was to catch up with Turtle Dove, which is becoming ever harder to find, even at Woods Mill, a stronghold in Sussex. Leaving the house at 0300, we got to the mill stream around 0600, having added Spotted Flycatcher by the Adur. There was nothing there, other than a lot of Nightingales, so moving on to the Woods Mill reserve, and then on to Oreham Common, there seemed to be lots of habitat, but nothing doing. Eventually we did hear a distant bird, that promptly flew away, almost invisibly, but having stood around for a while we were able to track down a calling bird, which showed well and purred beautifully for about half an hour. Glorious!
On Sunday we covered over 30 miles again, in the hope of catching up with Grasshopper Warbler, that had eluded us the previous weekend. Leaving the house at 0145 might seem extreme, but if you want to catch the dawn chorus a long way from home it needs to be done. We were rewarded by one bird showing well and reeling almost continuously, although drowned out by a very enthusiastic Sedge Warbler right next to us. A cuckoo also showed off nicely. Then on to Pulborough, where the Nightingales were excellent. I’ve been pretty dismissive of Pulborough Brooks for Nightingale in the last few years, but this year they are superb. Yet another failure with Adder, though.
Back at home the Slow Worm count has risen to 14 and we have added two Grass Snakes.
It’s been a strange spring migration, it seems to be tailing off a bit, but we’re well short of what there should be. The constant strong and cold winds have slowed things down (and shut up those birds that have arrived). Last year on 25th April I recorded 25 Reed Warblers on territories in the brooks behind us. This year so far I have got up to 10 on 30th April. Numbers may be poor, but diversity is good – my on foot list stands at 170, way ahead of this time last year, although I’ve seen all of the easy stuff now, so things will slow dramatically from now on.