Thursday, April 1, 2021

Early Start.

A shot of Ouzo makes a fine nightcap - for a while. I slept a deep sleep but woke up early perhaps knowing that the forecast was OK, too breezy for ringing but fine for a spot of birding. 

I set off north to a couple of places to check out for the coming weeks. 

Chris had told me how in the winter he worked with the digger at the face of the Sand Martin colony to try and make access somewhat easier for the ringers and if possible to improve the catch rate. He'd done a pretty good job and constructed a ledge where we can set nets some eight foot higher than the quarry floor of last year where we had no luck with the martins. 

I counted 130+ excitable Sand Martins crowding around the holes they used last year. In the photo below you can see how nest holes are excavated in a layer of softer sand and gravel, immediately below the larger and harder pebbles of the quarry face. The martins know the best places in which to nest but nature doesn't always cooperate with them when the holes may be weakened or even destroyed by the elements. 

Sand Martins

The water levels of the pools are extremely high after an autumn and winter dominated by rainfall. Even with a dry spell it is unlikely that water levels will drop sufficiently or quickly enough to allow the return of the Avocets to breed this year. 

Even the Oystercatchers seemed reluctant to pair up this morning, their one or two likely spots still covered in winter rain puddles as they face into the stiff breeze. 

The picture below shows three ages of Oystercatcher. The all black one with bright pink legs and bright red eyes is an adult, the one on the right with partial collar, paler bill and greyish legs is last year's bird. The Oystercatcher at the back still has the grey legs of last year and a less bright eye and is probably a month or two older than the right hand one, but not a full adult.  


The Sand Martins will be left to breed now.  Only when we know for sure that their breeding season is well underway will we return to ring some if the new setup works in our favour. 

I drove further back towards Pilling to look at another of our ringing sites. A real surprise came in the shape of a fine male Redstart, a scarce enough species in these parts where it is a spring and autumn migrant only. To see a Redstart is nice enough but to see one on the exceptionally early date of 1 April was quite unexpected. 

Buoyed by this unforeseen event, and carrying a bag containing trap, meal worms and A rings I took a walk along the sea wall in the hope of seeing a Wheatear or two but there were none. 

By now the stiff breeze had turned to a cold easterly with mostly waders and herons seen - 6 pairs of Oystercatcher, 7 Redshank, 4 Lapwing, 6 Little Egret and 1 Grey Heron. 

Lapwing - male 

Grey Heron 

Smaller birds found were 12 Skylark, 8 Linnet, 2 Pied Wagtail and 1 Meadow Pipit. 

Things are looking better for Skylarks this year along a stretch of breeding habitat that was subject to disturbance last summer from The "Environment" Agency. Very slowly, over many days, they cleared tidal debris from the sea wall with huge, lumbering noisy machinery. Unbelievable! 

Stay tuned.  There could be more news and another early start soon on Another Bird Blog.

Linking on Saturday to Eileen's Blogspot and Anni in Texas.



  1. The photos are gorgeous Phil, the Heron especially. I'm so glad you are out and about doing what you love! :)

  2. Hello Phil,:=) It was a pleasure to see your photos, and interesting read about the Sand Martins, and their nesting excavations, and also the three ages of the Oystercatcher.

  3. Hello Phil,
    Interesting, learned a bit more about a bird that I like, the oyster catcher. As for the ouzo, its about 60 years since I had a drop of that. I was stationed for over 2 years just outside the ouzo factory in Nocosia. Those were the days. Stay safe.

  4. Gee, Phil, you must be trying to re-create your times in Greece! Imagine that!

    You know I love sand martins from our river trip ... And that lapwing - dare I call him jaunty?

  5. Sounds like you had a good day. Have a good weekend, Diane

  6. Excellent shots, as usual. I like the redstart best.
    Have a blessed Easter time!

  7. Beautiful images! Nice observation of colour changes of Oystercatchers.

  8. Hello, Phil

    I just love your barn Owl header photo. The Sand Martin are sweet, I hope all goes well with their nesting. Great captures of the Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Redstart and the Grey Heron. Looks like a great outing. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, have a happy Easter weekend!

  9. It is always a treat to see you posts of birds which are exotic to me.

  10. Well, I for one would gladly see some rain. Here, we are in severe drought & no rain forecasted. Beautiful birds the Martins and that handsome Redstart!! I look forward to more of your upcoming ringing.

    As always, thanks for taking time to share your birds with us!!

  11. Fascinating to see the sand martins - I don't think we have anything like them here, and I enjoyed all your shots.
    Thanks for sharing at

  12. Another nice selection of photographs.

    Apparently the weather is going to turn colder this week, so take care with your early starts.

    All the best Jan

  13. Always a pleasure to see your photographs, Phil!

    It was fascinating to learn about the Sand Martins and their nesting excavations.

    Happy Tuesday!

  14. You had a good morning of birding!

    It's always encouraging to see regulars return to a specific area, such as your Sand Martins. Here's hoping they have a productive breeding season! I just know they can't wait to try on their new jewelry you have picked out for them.

    It's always discouraging to see regular bureaucracy in action, such as an "Environment" agency proceeding with disturbing nesting Skylarks, I suspect, "because the work was scheduled for that time", or some such parseltongue.

    Your photographs are superb. I especially like the "artsy" look of the Grey Heron.

    The Rebel Alliance remains in disarray but we are proceeding with life one day at a time. Birds are proceeding with preparations for breeding season and we hope to catch them at it as often as possible!

    As to that Ouzo nightcap - Yasou!

  15. Outstanding Post - Dig That Walking Lapwing - Are Herons Are Amazing Fishermen - Enjoy Your Weekend And Adventure On



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