May kicked off where April left off with passage continuing on the 3rd with an absolutely stonking full summer Slavonian Grebe at Ogston. This took some finding when I arrived and I had almost given up when it floated into view under the far bank across from the Public Hide. I watched it for a while before it dived and seemingly vanished away. A long wait ensued before I located it again further off. Unfortunately this northern stunner never came close enough for photographs but then showed very well at times from the car park through ‘scopes in the corner below the top car park.
On the 4th it was back up to Carsington on a bright and sunny afternoon to catch up with my first Grey Plover there for years. A drab bird, with black restricted to a patch on the belly, it favoured the corner of Shiningford creek mud and so was fairly distant but very nice to see. Also there, around Horseshoe Island, are a pair of lingering Red crested Pochard.
A walk round Stones produced a few waders and a nice Yellow Wagtail, another herald that spring proper is here.
On the 7th a late afternoon trip to Carsington saw us drop into Sheepwash and see a beautiful Black Tern feeding off the hide. Round at Stones it was a bit of a high Arctic wader fest with 5 Turnstones, Dunlins and Ringed plovers all feeding on the fringes of Stones Island. The birds were feeding along the edge of Stones in a very brisk wind and were roosting together crouched into the wind when we first arrived. They then woke up and became more active, splitting up and beginning to range up and down the bank edge. The Turnstone were their usual selves, tossing and turning quite large stones aside in their rather staid, methodical search for food. The Ringed Plovers were much more restless, running hither and thither in an anxious way, picking at food morsels and seemingly in a hurry to be on their way. The birds all called restlessly at times, obviously wanting to be on their way northbound.
The Greylag’s in front of Sheepwash were escorting 5 tiny fluffy goslings.
The 8th saw no let up in northward migration through the county as a run over to Ogston produced a nice Wood Sandpiper feeding up and down the muddy margins near the public hide. The birds movements seemed grooved in a short length of bank side, always turning at the same spots and setting off back the way it had come, picking at the morsels of food, before again reaching the far end of this invisible track and turning once more to walk with its slightly crouched gait back along the mud.
Whilst watching this a cracking Osprey came in and caught a fish, flying off carrying it.
Also present in front of the Public Hide were 2 Greenshank.
Then it was off up to Carsington again where 2 full adult Grey Plovers had taken up temporary residence on the exact same patch of mud the previous bird had fed on. I wonder what it was about this bit of bank edge that drew 3 of these super birds to the same seemingly insignificant piece of mud, what sets it apart from the seemingly indistinguishable other margins? These two were resplendent in full spring attire with their full black faces and bellies contrasting with the silver grey spangled backs and white shoulders and flank lines.
A smart Oystercatcher was feeding right outside the WLC.
Also on Horseshoe Island this Stock Dove was one of a pair feeding, whilst out on Stones the group of Ringed Plovers were roosting up gathering their selves to start the migration further northwards into spring… some look small and dark Tundra birds?
A really nice surprise was an adult Little Gull feeding out over the reservoir for quite a while. One of my favorite gulls. Also present was a Black Tern.
A late evening walk down Wyver Lane on the 10th was on a beautiful calm and mild spring evening and produced the usual suspects, including the Shelduck that is, I think purely fulled by anger as it chases everything off it can reach!
However a nice surprise as we got back to the car was a loud honking Egyptian Goose that had dropped in. A real rare down there!