Wednesday 3 April 2024

Hard Slog

With some promise in the forecast (northeasterly with showers), a visit to Castle Howard, followed by a loop of the LDV was in order. It still felt very wintery and apart from 40 Sand Martins over CHL, lots of Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps, there were no new summer migrants, until I got to Wheldrake where a singing Willow Warbler shivered in the late morning breeze. It has been very wet and cool in the Med recently and I suspect following the last pulse of migrants, everything has been blocked. With skies clearing in the Med this coming week and the wind going southerly, I suspect we will get more birds arriving. The heavy rain has been pretty catastrophic in southern Europe, downing loads of Alpine Swifts, which are struggling in the prolonged poor weather. With an increasingly unstable climate, perhaps this is going to be the norm?

Castle Howard was rather bereft of birds, with many of the ducks having departed. A Cetti's Warbler was singing in the usual area and a few Marsh Tits bounced about in the hedgerow to the north of the lake. A couple of Goldeneye were still present but it seemed that the Smew had gone.

Into the valley and there were lots of ducks around still, plus two Whooper Swans at North Duff. Despite the chilly weather, Curlews, Redshanks, Lapwings and Skylarks were busy displaying over the rapidly-drying ings - a fantastic sound. 

The drake American Wigeon was refound mid-morning, at Wheldrake Ings, by Stuart Rapson, and as that was my final destination, I had chance to have a closer look at this handsome bird, casually swimming about on Swantail. The cloud of Blackwits was still present too, appearing like a smudge of rust on the main meadow, which is rapidly 'greening up' now that the flooding has abated. A first-winter White-fronted Goose had recently appeared and is hanging out with the local Greylags. Today, it was on the grass in front of Thicket Priory. 

Drake American Wigeon, top two; White-fronted Goose, bottom.

So, not a bad morning, but as often happens in early April, a little bit frustrating!

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