Saturday, 4 August 2012

Downpour grounds migrants

Saturday 4th August 2012
We've had some almighty downpours in the last couple of days, which have been my cue to retire to the Olympic sofa for a couple of hours rest. Today's first lashing was enough to temporarily put the electricity out. I came in from working the spare veg patch with heavy clods of mud stuck to the soles of my trainers. That's not supposed to happen in August.
Carrying extra weight.
Last year this patch was like set concrete.
(Please ignore odd socks).

In birding terms, August marks the beginning of Autumn migration, and today's downpour dumped a few travelling birds out of the sky.

The willow and ash  behind the pond were suddenly alive with birds, mostly comprised of a couple of families of agile goldfinches joined by a small party of linnets and a few blue and great tits. These birds could have been our regular farm birds grouping together to feed on whatever was so special in the willow today. But there were others which were most definitely new in. I'd been hearing a Willow Warbler singing and calling around the garden for a couple of days now but it was a surprise when two bright young birds popped onto the fence just outside the lounge window. Despite the continuing showers, this inspired me to spend an hour or so watching the pond area more closely.

I counted quite some group of migrants for the time of year. At least three Willow Warblers and a Chiffchaff (likely more, as they never stopped moving and disappearing round the corner or into the canopy) as well as a Whitethroat. But the biggest surprise was, mixed in with the goldfinches, two Reed Buntings hopping around in the trees all afternoon. Not the way I usually see Reed Buntings.

These migrants may not have come across the North sea, as there were no reports of significant numbers on the coast today. They may be trickling down the country from further north, or they may have moved into the garden from local breeding grounds. Wherever they were from, they were certainly on the move somewhere and have clearly been grounded within the last couple of days by the torrential showers we have been experiencing.

They were very welcome visitors and hopefully the predecessors to an exciting Autumn of birds.

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