Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ups and downs

Should try to post more frequently but spending most of my free time in the field it gets a bit difficult, no point sitting inside when birds are migrating overhead!

3rd September: One of the better days so far...with Little egrets making a passage in the morning and the first peak of Marsh harriers in the afternoon. Apart from the 60 Little Egret (three flocks of 26, 21 and 13), 7 Grey heron, 4 Marsh harriers and an Audouin's Gull were seen from the coast. A Black-eared wheatear was also interesting.

Up at Buskett a total of 100 Marsh harriers were seen many roosting in the wooded valley just below us at dusk. It had been a while since they chose Buskett as a roost so seeing the birds coming down one by one into the pine trees was special. This not to mention the presence of two Black kites. Other birds of prey were a Montagu's harrier with a dangling leg, a Hobby, two Lesser Kestrel and a Common Kestrel. The first flock of 10 Alpine Swifts made an appearance speeding across the sky!

26 Little egrets, taken by A. Vella

4th September: A less successful seawatch...with only 7 Little Egret and a Black-headed gull. 5 Turnstones still present making the morning a bit less boring!

Buskett in the afternoon was no better. Well 2 Eleonora's falcons weren't to grumble about one staying till dusk hunting over the trees. Otherwise 2 Common Kestrel and a Hobby was all.

Common Kestrel as it flew over, taken by A. Vella

5th September: Again rather quiet raptor wise with only a Common Kestrel and 5 Marsh harrier coming in late in the evening. Turtle doves made up for the lack of birds of prey though. Small flocks were seen flying down into the trees and at one point a flock of 14 flew up from the opposite side of the valley. An estimation of 30 birds was good for a very poor year for Turtle doves! What's more a flock of 9 Grey herons flew by.

6th September: 5 hours of seawatching produced only 3 Grey herons and 3 Marsh harriers and no need to mention very frustrated birdwatchers.
Went up to Buskett late, really thinking that I could have stayed at home but glad I did. Shortly after arriving the conspicuous call of Dottorels were heard and three passed overhead, one adult and two juveniles. A Golden oriole male was also not to grumble about! Birds of prey I got in time to see were 9 Marsh harrier (out of a total of 13), 2 Honey Buzzard (10 seen in all), and 2 unidentified Kestrels. Two Black kites and two Eleonora's falcon had been seen earlier.

7th September: Seawathcing in strong north west winds would had been disappointing had it not been for less than 10 minutes with two flocks of birds passing through making the day. First a flock of 14 Avocets flying low over the waves and I had barely taken the scope off them as they disappeared in the distance when I spotted a flock of 51 Garganey! It was the first sizeable flock of the species I have seen I in autumn. Cory's shearwater were passing close to shore, two Marsh harriers benefitted the tail wind, two Sandwhich terns and an Audouin's gull completed the list.

8th September: Calmer north west winds was better conditions making even a a better morning seawatch. 8 Purple herons were the first to migrate over, followed by more herons: 1, 24, 8 (33 in all) Grey heron and 13 Little Egret. Marsh harriers started early appearing first as specks over the horizon in singles and small groups. A total of 37 was recorded. A Quail whizzed past as did four Garganeys all drakes. Turnstones still there but only three now. The best however was yet another Avocet flock! This was slightly larger, 17!

Record shot of the 17 Avocets, the largest flock I have seen yet! Taken by T. Micallef

9th September: Off to Buskett in the afternoon it was...the first two flocks of Honey Buzzards (10, 12), incoming in their typical glide against the wind. Moreover two Black kites, 7 Marsh harrier and 3 Hobby were sighted. An Eleonora's falcon showed well too. 20 Night herons alighted from the trees calling as they went as well as a Grey Heron. Finally more than 200 Bee-eaters, an Alpine swift, a few Common Swifts, Swallows and the first House martins were emptying the skies from insects.

10th Septmber: The cruel truth of birdwatching and maybe even more with day you go home happy and excited the next you go home thinking what was the point of getting out of bed! Variable winds and very little movement. 6 and 7 Little egrets and four Grey herons was all really with only two Turnstones now.

Buskett was better tough. Arrived only to hear that we had lost two Ospreys, for which it has been a really poor migration so far! 9 Honey Buzzards and 8 Marsh harriers were circling around, no migration evident. Hobbies peaked with at least 18 birds hunting around and about. Then the bird I and others had been hoping for was spotted, another Osprey, flashing white in the sunlight then taking a glide, wings bent in a shallow M. The 6th so far and my first this autumn. It was followed by yet another great bird, a Pallid harrier male!

A week of calm and variable wind is not looking bright but we'll see and look forward to anything migration throws at us!

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