Friday, 13 August 2021

Turning of the Tide

Sitting in the garden earlier this evening I watched three Swifts head south towards the coast and realised how close I am to seeing my last of the year. Two weeks maybe? How quickly the tide turns...

Mind you, this afternoon I walked from West Bex to East Bex and saw very little evidence of that seasonal flux. Certainly the vegetation is browning off now, and beginning to look a bit autumnal, but the hedges I checked were thronged with exactly zero migrant warblers. Bird-wise, this was the sum total of mig thrills...

Wheatear at East Bexington. Just the one.

In fact birds were seriously outshone by a superb insect...

Golden-ringed Dragonfly at East Bex. I'm pretty sure this is the first I've photographed, and only the second or third I've ever seen. Stunning beastie.

Talking of insects...

We used to grow Hemp Agrimony in our previous garden (and the one before that) and it is one of my favourite butterfly magnets. As well as this fabulous Painted Lady there were several Red Admirals and a Peacock on this little clump.

Yesterday morning a walk at Cogden produced 9 Wheatears, 3 Willow Warblers and 2 Sedge Warblers. Migration, albeit in a small way. I'm looking forward to when that outgoing tide really gets moving, and we see a proper surge of birds. Maybe the wind needs to shift a bit first. Something with a touch more east in it would be good.

Nocmig is producing a steady, if thin, supply of migrant waders at the moment. Most nights I'm getting one or two. Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Dunlin, Turnstone, Oystercatcher, Curlew and Ringed Plover have all featured in the last few days. But my favourite recording was a Redshank at 03:09 yesterday morning. It called three times, the volume increasing as it came closer and closer. There were 40 seconds between the first call and the last, but in this spectrovid I've cut out most of the space...

In the latest Dorset Bird Club newsletter there is a great article by Paul Morton about nocmig. He's been at it since 24th March 2015, but it was delightful to read that he too experienced the same 'wow' factor that everyone seems to when they realise how much stuff flies over their home at night. Admittedly the novelty has worn off a bit now, but I still cannot help an involuntary smile when I get something like that Redshank. Brilliant!

Finally, this fly-over at West Bex this afternoon...

Each to their own, but if I had a spare 15-odd grand I can think of a million ways I'd rather spend it.


  1. Hiya Gavin. I've just spent most of the week in the Aberfeldy/Aviemore/Grantown general area. Swifts are abundant up there at the moment, the hundreds screaming over Aberfeldy were a sheer delight to see! It seems that they've deleyed their nesting season a little due to the (hmmm, how do I phrase this delicately...) due to the utterly shite weather earlier in the year. Apparently Nightjars are doing the same except they often chuck out a second brood, maybe they'll be late leaving too? At least some southern English Wood Warblers have not attempting to lay eggs at all this year, more bad news for what is a catastrophically declining bird down south (all those details from a well-informed insider). So you may find that your overhead passage of Swifts is a little late this year. Should be plenty of them when they do come through though! :)

    1. Thanks Seth, interesting stuff. Must admit I've never really considered how breeding season weather might affect autumn migration. Look forward to seeing how things pan out. Would be great to get a late passage of Swifts though...

      Wood Warbler. Sigh... 🙁

  2. Yup, swifts gone, not a sight or sound of a warbler but 6 oyster catchers over my house last week - go figure. The trickle of spring birds, each met with an enthusiastic welcome contrasts greatly with their rush for the exit. It's like they are trying to get out without paying the bill.

    1. Though I always enjoy autumn migration, for me it doesn't have anything like the positive vibe of spring. Yes, an unseemly rush to get out before all the leaves fall off!

      I wonder where your Oystercatchers are from, and where they're going...