Wednesday, 6 April 2022

#LocalBigYear - March

At the end of March things were too busy to get this post written, but wallowing here in snotty self-pity I have plenty of time, so here it is.

I have been keeping a list (which I think was on 116 by 31st) but growing it has turned out to be way down the table of #LocalBigYear motivations. Rather, my boat is floated far more buoyantly by things like the littoralis Rock Pipit challenge. Not only has that been a source of genuinely local interest, but I've learned stuff I didn't know. And I've been reminded how generous the birding community can be, with unsolicited contributions of helpful literature from at least three different sources. The full challenge involved finding one in summer garb, and I haven't managed that so far. Even better though, I did find one that I'm 100% happy with (and I am fussy) despite its lack of pink bits...

Scandinavian Rock Pipit Anthus petrosus littoralis (and HERE is why)

There have been plenty of nocmig moments, though the best, an Avocet on 24th, wasn't clinched until April. Also, seven Oystercatchers and seven Curlews in the month were way more than I managed visually!

March would not seem complete without a Wheatear or two, so an early bird on 13th and a grand (and surprising) total of 65 by 31st was more than satisfying. As I type this, I am well aware that some birders won't have seen their first of the year yet. Some of those Wheatears were in Rockit Land too...

This sunny slope is one of my favourite spots in Rockit Land. At the back of the beach you can make out the hefty digger which is used to maintain the integrity of the shingle bank. There were six Wheatears loitering near it on March 30th, finding plenty to eat in the shelter of that rock armour...

...and even on the digger itself. I think I know what this Wheatear was looking at.

Full marks if you spot five Wheatears in this shot. No points for four - they're too easy

I would never have predicted seeing a Yellow-browed Warbler in March. Not only is it my first local bird, but definitely the first YBW ever that I have managed to see while pushing a buggy with a granddaughter in it. I have paid it several visits now. It is a very short walk from home, so how could I not?

Even with a good DSLR I should imagine this Yellow-browed Warbler is difficult to photograph, so I was pretty delighted to get this shot with my P900.

Apart from a couple of encounters with Adders there haven't been many wildlife photos which didn't feature birds, but a post like this one gives me a chance to air a couple...

My first beefly of the year turned out to be a [very unapproachable] Dotted Beefly (on 23rd)...

with this [almost comatose] Dark-edged Beefly seen on 30th

Both beeflies were close to the Yellow-browed spot, habitat quite rich in wildlife despite the constant presence of people, and countless dogs.

I could probably say a lot more, but don't want to rehash too much that I've already published, so I'll close with a couple of scenic-type photos...

West Bay at 06:50 on 27th. No sign of the Purple Sandpiper at the far end of the harbour wall that morning, but watching a crew launch this pilot's gig was about as 'Not Quite Scilly' as you can get. And the name 'Bucky-Doo' is about as Bridport as you can get.

Portrait of the author as a shadow on the West Bexington reeds. Amazing light.


  1. All lovely stuff as usual Gav. Spring certainly ignites the passion. I must swat up on bee fly species, I have them in the garden (along with Ivy Bees later in the year) and they are abundant at my carp lake.

    1. Only a handful of beeflies to learn thankfully, and local to me I think there's only one other species I might see.

      I love spring. Approaching my favourite time of the year now...

  2. Im one of those still awaiting a Wheatear. Outside as I write, its a harsh, sleet filled, Northerly hoolie blowing so the chances of one seem as distant as ever.

    1. Amazing isn't it Stew? Just a few hundred miles, but the differences between your Northumberland birdlife and ours in Dorset - both seasonally and the everyday stuff - make it feel like two different countries. Reading your blog is an education. 😊