April 2023

Saturday 29th. Believe it or not, last night’s meagre total of four moths was an improvement on recent appallingly low numbers and did at least include firsts for the year in Green Carpet and Brimstone. As the morning warmed a hare was busily chasing a Magpie on the spring barley, goodness knows why, and a Lesser Whitethroat was singing from the hedgerow behind us. Late in the afternoon some movement in the field across the road caught my eye and there were 6 Wheatears and a smart male Yellow Wagtail among the emerging spring barley.

Friday 28th. The last couple of days have been cold and, yesterday at least, very wet. However, this morning felt warmer, despite being overcast, and in some late morning sunshine it felt almost like spring! Our first surprise was a hare that spent some time in our garden meadow and the second a Holly Blue that passed by as we walked along the lane up to the farm in the afternoon.

Friday 21st. We certainly had the best of the day as rain started soon after we left Ferrybridge. Up to that point it had been cloud-free and calm and on a falling very high tide several Little Terns were buzzing about The Fleet and 18 Bar-tailed Godwits and about 30 Dunlins arrived as the mud became quickly exposed. Several Wheatears were bouncing about amongst the thrift, which is not far from coming into full bloom. Back home, a singing Whitethroat was our first this year.

Thursday 20th. As my old gran used to say, it’s an ill wind that does nobody any good (and keep your thieving mitts out of the larder young man). The wind was still in the NE and there wasn’t a cloud to be seen, which did no favours to our moths, with only a Turnip in the trap, but it did stimulate a fair amount of avian interest. On the fences across the road were 2 Wheatears and a superb Whinchat, the first spring individual I’ve seen for seven years, a Whimbrel dropped briefly on to the spring barley, a Sparrowhawk drifted along the ridge to the south and 2 House Martins flew N along with a light trickle of Swallows.

Wednesday 19th. I awoke to a misty, wet and breezy morning but when I poked my nose out to check the overnight temperature a small noise from inside our shed made me look and there was a Swallow, presumably one of those that raised four kids last summer. With the sun showing its face late in the morning we decided on a visit to Radipole, where at least 7-8 Willow Warblers were present alongside the local Chiffchaffs, around 20 Reed and 3-4 Sedge Warblers were chuntering away and a pack of a dozen or so Sand Martins was busy at the far end of the reserve. 2 Brimstones rounded off a brief but very enjoyable visit.

Tuesday 18th. Despite the onset of a brisk NE breeze overnight Brindled Beauty was new for the year in our moth trap. Alan from the village and I decided on a visit to Lodmoor where several Sandwich Terns were up and about, a singing Sedge Warbler was new for the year and at least 21 Black-tailed Godwits were nearly all in summer plumage. A couple of pristine Speckled Woods were also the first for me this year.

Monday 17th. Last night produced our second record of Shoulder Stripe, on the same date as our first last year, and our first migrant of the year; a Dark Sword-grass. We now have two Swallows on the wires outside the cottage, which bodes well for the forthcoming breeding season, and in the afternoon a local scarcity, a Greenfinch, turned up in the elms just beyond our garden pond.

Sunday 16th. Our first moth trapping session of the year last night was way better than expected, including our first garden record of Dotted Chestnut, plus Lunar Marbled Brown and Streamer, which we have only trapped once before, and other moderate notables that included Powdered Quaker and Early Tooth-striped. So, off we went to Higher Hyde Heath, which was overcast and not very busy, but where we did find one Woodlark, while several Swallows flew over and a few Siskins were kicking about.

Thursday 13th. Despite a blustery breeze, today looked like a window of relative pleasantness in between yesterday’s shenanigans and more wet weather tomorrow. Although it remained cool this Dotted Bee-fly was having a nice time at the plants in the sheltered spots our garden.

Wednesday 12th. Well, things have gone rather downhill since my last update and the weather over the last couple of days has been particularly foul. Yesterday was my fifth immunotherapy session, which turned out to be a protracted affair, though the four hours it took was rendered irrelevant by heavy rain that lasted throughout my treatment, with the added bonus of gale force winds. As for today, a reasonable start went rapidly south, with the SW wind building to reach gusts of 74 mph in the afternoon, courtesy of Storm Noa, named this morning by the French Met. Office. We are assured that next week will be nice.

Saturday 8th. A frosty start gave way, rather reluctantly, to a sunny morning. This brought a pair of Kestrels mating on the telegraph pole just down the road, a Sparrowhawk along the ridge to the south and some muck-spreading on the field across the road. This attracted a couple of Black-headed Gulls among the hordes of Herrings, a Little Egret (the first here this year) and 2 white wagtails. Best of all, though, was our first Swallow of the spring; hopefully one of ‘our’ birds from last year.

Friday 7th. After two days of rain and a rather chilly breeze today was stunningly nice, with just a gentle NE drift and wall-to-wall sunshine. It was a mark of how weird this year has been so far that an overflying Linnet was the first here this year, but 4-5 Buzzards were enjoying the thermals and a Peacock butterfly did a circuit of the cottage as we sat outside with a cup of coffee. It was also the day some of the cows were turned out from being indoors for the winter, much to the delight of the calves, and on the way up to the farm we encountered our first Comma of the spring.

Tuesday 4th. A chilly start gave way to a beautiful, sunny and calm spring day by mid-morning, so we opted for a visit to Lodmoor to take it all in. Although it was relatively quiet, with no migrant waders or terns to be seen, there were some nice bits and pieces, including our first Small White of the year, 17 Black-tailed Godwits, at least 7 Little Egrets, a female type Marsh Harrier and a Swallow that slipped across the reed bed on its way north. With blackthorn in full blossom and Med. Gulls in summery finery it was all rather delightful. Back home, a Peacock in the garden was also new for the year.

Saturday 1st. The new month kicked off with a Blackcap singing from the old railway as a cloudy, breezy start steadily improved to become almost spring-like. Apart from a Chiffchaff, fiddling about in the garden, that was about it, though there was the worrying sight of a deceased Herring Gull in the field; very likely a victim of avian flu, which seems to be ravaging seabirds in particular.