Two Swallows flying over Congresbury Moor on the first day of the month were the first reported locally but generally migration with the exception of good numbers of Chiffchaffs was slow early on. Greenfinches however, are abundant around the villages, they have recovered remarkably quickly from the depredations of trichomoniasis disease.The first survey in Littlewood (9th) started with a displaying male Sparrowhawk ( it was a cold sunny morning) followed by five singing Chiffchaffs, four singing Blackcaps and a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker. Two Jays were active along with along with Long tailed tits.
The wind went round to the south east on the 11th and this triggered a run of passing and arriving migrants. Swallows were reported from Claverham, Brockley and Kenn with more passing along the coast. Mark Savage spotted 18 Wheatears at Dowlais (near Clevedon but in the parish of Kenn) a remarkable number for Spring migration. Also on the 11th a pair of Ravens robbed a Sparrowhawk of its Pigeon prey at Claverham.
On the 14th Swallows were near the Little River and the first reported House Martin was over Chestnut Park Estate, Yatton where a small nesting colony has formed. The second Strawberry Line count took place the next morning in glorious sunny conditions with a southerly wind. We recorded seven warbler species, pretty good for mid April with the star bird being a singing Garden Warbler at Yatton Junction Reserve. We actually saw this skulker, it’s identification features are that it has no identification features! It is the ultimate little brown job and the very last place that you would encounter it is in a garden.
Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat were my first of the Spring locally. Lesser Whitethroats haven’t arrived yet and we missed the Willow Warblers recorded by others earlier in the week. A male Peregrine being pursued by an angry Gull low over Wemberham Crescent was an exciting finale.
Three splendid male Wheatears and a pair of Linnets were feeding on spoil heaps at the Hinkley Connect site in Wemberham Lane.This shows how valuable a small amount of disturbed habitat in the pasture can be for plants, insects and birds. A Mallard with 13 ducklings was an apt sight on Easter Day.
Cadbury Hill has a good suite of woodland birds and it was good to hear Marsh Tits calling there as they hadn’t been seen during the winter. It’s also one of the few local sites with Mistle Thrush and a Wych Elm was providing food for Greenfinches, Goldfinches and a pair of Bullfinches. A Willow Warbler, probably on passage, was singing by the cricket club car park.
Easterly winds on the 21st saw the arrival of Lesser Whitethroats with two on Congresbury Moor and another by Wemberham Lane. These tiny birds winter in Ethiopia and migrate via Italy. Their song is a quiet warble, inaudible at distance followed by a single note rattle. More passage Wheatears were seen at Congresbury (Strawberry Line) and at Wemberham again. Perhaps more exciting was a Cuckoo cuckcooing by Mendip Spring golf course on the 25th.
The next Cuckoo was spotted by Littlewood warden, John Croxton on the 27th feeding in the field behind his house in Kenn. It was an unusual as well as a very welcome record, in that it was seen but not heard. On the same date two Whinchats were feeding by the Hinkley Connect works in Wemberham Lane. A Mandarin duck and three Redstarts were unusual visitors to Kenn Moor on the 28th recorded by Sue and Emily on the North Somerset Levels Spring bird survey.
The survey over Congresbury Moor, Gang Wall and part of the Strawberry Line (30th) yielded eight singing warbler species, the seven regular residents plus a Willow Warbler that is probably on an extended pause on its migration but might be hoping to find a mate. Five each of Cetti’s and Sedge Warblers and four Lesser Whitethroats were encouraging counts.
All the best,
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