Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Spring is springing

The Meteorological Office says that February was the brightest (109.9hrs of sunlight) since 1929, although the national mean temperature was a modest 4.9degrees. However this was still 1.9degrees above the 1961-90 average. Why is this so important? Well it precedes the March surge – when all our summer migrants start to appear. The brighter and warmer it is the earlier they appear.

Wheatears started to appear in the UK at Portland BO on the 15th March and have been passing through locally for about 8 days or so. Little Ringed Plovers have been reported on the Sefton coast, while Black Redstarts have, even by our standards, been scant. On the same day Wheatears were at Portland swallows were reported at Leasowe Lighthouse on the Wirral. Sand Martins are now arriving and the first Chiffchaffs are beginning to make themselves known.

Set against this we have Long-tailed tits incubating, herons with chicks and eggs, Mallards with young, Coot and Moorhen on eggs, Woodpigeons, Collared doves and Magpies all visibly nesting and, interestingly Pink-footed Geese, Whooper swans, Redwing and Fieldfare still with us.

The next period of Atlas recording – due to start in less than a week and supposedly the breeding component – is likely to be a joke (it starts April 1st) but, not in a humorous context, but in a perplexing one in that we will have a full repertoire or birding events going on. Winter visitors still here, summer ones arriving, some birds on eggs and others with young – I look forward to seeing all the results in due course.

Image of Willow Warbler from www.naturfoto.cz Copyright Jiri Bohdal

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