Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Spring migrants!



This morning we were working on a new sandmartin bank on the shores of Pumphouse Pit. I made a few holes with a spike, jut to give the birds the right idea. Half an hour later we were unloading our gear at the visitors' centre when an exhausted sand martin flew towards me and landed on the wire above my head. It sat there for over 20 minutes and volunteer Matthew Fox took this photo of it. Later it (or another one) was seen flying over the Heronry Lakes.

Sand martins are often the first spring migrants to arrive, closely followed by chiff-chaffs. However, it's very difficult to tell if a chiff-chaff has just arrived or if it has over-wintered, whereas sand martins are always summer migrants. March 4th is a very early date, but not a record. We have had one on March 2nd before, and they have been seen in Cambridgeshire as early as February 27th.

At least one firecrest is still about at the gully, near the beach. On Monday, Garth Peacock took this photo of it. It was very low down and even fed on the path. It was also showing well today. The pair of smew have been joined by a second red-head and they are being photographed like mad, close to the shore along the Heron Trail on Heronry South. No-one has offered us a picture yet, but I'd love one.

If you have a good picture of the smew for our blog, please e-mail it to paxtonpits@btconnect.com