Tuesday, 10 May 2022

Small Things

Yesterday's long sit on Cogden Beach produced a couple of audio novelties. Seawatching normally involves a noisy sea and long range, and it has honestly never occurred to me that distant flocks of passing birds might be calling to one another as they go. I don't know why not, because closer birds like Sandwich Terns and Whimbrel are frequently vocal. Well, yesterday I added two new species to my 'heard while seawatching' list: Common Scoter and Kittiwake. The gentle 'shush' of the feeble surf was not enough to drown out the calls of a loitering Scoter flock which got up for a fly around, 'peep'-ing away like a nocmig recording! To the best of my knowledge this is the first time I've heard them in the flesh. Likewise, a passing flock of 15 Kitts was also perfectly audible. Brilliant stuff!

Small things, eh?

Talking of which, finally I have a much-desired addition to my nocmig collection. Two years ago fellow nocmigger Mark Pearson recorded one over his home in Filey, North Yorkshire - a single burst of song - and I've wanted one ever since. There was some WhatsApp discussion at the time, because it seems a bit incongruous that this species would sing while in active migratory flight. But it does...


Yes, now I have a lovely Lesser Whitethroat 'rattle' to go with my (so far) 16 clips of Blackcap song. Which raises the question: what about other warblers? I don't know. I've not yet heard of any other species featuring in nocmig recordings, and with the numbers involved you would expect them to, so perhaps other species are silent? Why do Blackcap and Lesser Whitethroat occasionally let rip then? I love how little we seem to know about birds sometimes.

I had another nocmig 'song' tick a few nights ago, from a species whose call I've recorded on 18 occasions. Only a snatch, but it will do...


That's a sound I would normally expect to hear from the margins of a pond or lake, and a pumped-up Little Grebe. It is so bizarre to know this bird was buzzing around the night sky instead. Once again, brilliant!

Small things. In the continued absence of Pomarine Skuas, absolutely essential...

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