Thursday 20 April 2023

More Arrivals

Interesting weather this morning: a cloudless sky and a brisk north-easterly, which for here is about as offshore as a wind can get. Assuming lots of birds had crossed the Channel last night, or were doing so right now, several hours of headwind might encourage them to touch down on reaching the coast, rather than flying straight over it. Only one way to find out...

I still have much to learn about birding in West Bay and Bridport - like what spots are best in different conditions - but one thing I do know: Wheatears like to pitch up on the various bits of seafront rock armour when they arrive. I didn't have much time before work, but tried the seafront first...

Newly-arrived Wheatear on the harbour's West Pier. The very excellent seawatching shelter just creeping into shot on the right.

Confiding female Wheatear. This image is uncropped.

NQS Wheatear photo tally slowly growing.

Brisk north-easterlies in late April often encourage migrating Bar-tailed Godwits to cut across land on their journey north. I wasn't particularly expecting to see any at West Bay, but paused frequently along the seafront to have a quick scan offshore. Lowering my bins after one last fruitless effort, I spotted a medium-sized bird at eye level, just a few metres away and heading straight at me. As it went past, the penny dropped. It was a Barwit, and it had a Whimbrel in tow. Both birds flew straight over those buildings visible in the first Wheatear photo, and away inland. Hopefully they went on to brighten up some land-locked patch birder's day like they had mine.

I saw other birds make landfall too. Small ones. At least three Willow/Chiffs and what was probably a Whitethroat. It is such a buzz to witness passerines arriving like that, knowing they've just crossed the Channel. Heading up West Cliff to the Barred Warbler quarry (definitely a hotspot) I was hoping for Grasshopper Warbler or better. I got a Chiffchaff, 4 Willow Warblers, 5 Blackcaps and my first Whitethroat of the year. Ah well. Still, the potential was obvious. Birds were actively arriving all the time. By the time I got back to the seafront there were four new Wheatears present, bringing the morning count to 11. Like the earlier ones, these too headed off inland very quickly. And, unfortunately, so did work.

The local WhatsApp group has been busy all day. Kev Hale found a Hoopoe at Beer Head; Redstarts, Whinchats and a Pied Flycatcher popped up in various places; an Osprey and two Hobbies were seen, and this evening there is news of a Woodchat Shrike found at Cogden earlier. A very lively day indeed!

After work I headed up the Mangerton River valley. Being some four miles inland, I wondered if a few of today's new arrivals might linger there, like a nice male Redstart, say...

No chance. But I did find two Willow Warblers, which is a new species for my Bridport North PWC2023 list.

Last night I caught an absolute belter of a moth on the cabin wall. Tiny, but stunning...

Esperia sulphurella is apparently common, but new for me.

Some more pics from the last couple of nights...

At 14mm from palps to wingtip, not so micro.

Brindled Pug. Caught three of these now, and this one is the freshest.

The very common Brimstone, but this one is immaculate and my first this year.

The 2023 moth tally is 54 species plus three aggregates which, according to my Twitter feed, seems to compare quite favourably with what other moth folk are getting.

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