Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cuckoos and Curlews. 4.5.2013.

I confess to luxuriating in the experience in Spring of being woken up ( rather early I'm afraid ) by bubbling Curlews on the surrounding moorland and the metronomic-al reminder by one or more Cuckoos that time is ticking by !  Such was this morning's experience, providing a possible confirmation that Spring has arrived.

Soon after, following a close scrutiny of the grassland moor opposite and adjoining areas, it was apparent that there had been a fall of Northern Wheatears.  Usually early May is the time when passage can be dominated by "Greenland" Wheatears, but such was not the case today. Of the birds found only an odd "Greenland" was discovered;  by contrast several female Northern Wheatears was present, set against a seeming predominance of male birds in other recent days when, clearly, arrivals had taken place. Gradually the numbers reduced as birds moved northwards along the glen, the migratory imperative still influencing matters.

Because of time constraints and other commitments I decided to do a routine check around the immediate local area.  I find this approach, carried out at intervals throughout the year, provides a very useful barometer within which details can be compared from the equivalent period twelve or so months before. Wandering westwards across to the coast and around hill top fields, followed by a similar journey across the grass moor to the east and along the perimeter of the adjacent forestry, gives a good impression of what is around.

Whilst there has been much talk of how late, precisely in some cases, this season appears to be in 2013, looking at past bird records suggests things generally are not far from the norm. What does appear to have occurred is that Spring arrivals have been subject to being influenced by differing weather systems and, therefore, have appeared in a series of "pulses". For example, the wide arrival of Common Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler or Grasshopper Warblers appears not to have been completed and, in the above area, a number of  usual territories of each were, as yet, empty.  By contrast, particularly compared to last year, Meadow Pipit numbers appear to be buoyant ( good news for Cuckoos! ) and the number of Curlew pairs is higher than in 2012. It was consoling to find at least two pairs of obvious "local" Stonechats in residence, a good indication that their numbers were certainly back to normal, if not in excess, of the level previous to the poor recent winters which had caused reductions. Throughout the period "zips" ( my term ) of Goldfinch went though north, usually just one or two birds together, being returning  birds that had sought to spend the winter further south.
Routine perhaps, unexciting,  but a useful insight into the local situation and circumstances within the Spring of 2013.