Lade - 0600hrs - cool, cloudy, ne 4 - An early outing before cooking breakfast for the Wiltshire birders proved profitable with a first Common Sandpiper of the year flickering over south lake. Three 1st summer Little Gulls came in from the south and continued northwards without a pause, as did several small flocks of hirundines and five Swifts. Despite the chilly wind there was still plenty of bird song, mainly from Whitethroats and Linnets in the scrub and Reed Warblers around the reedbeds, plus Cuckoo, Sedge Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat elsewhere. A large hatch of craneflies had the Starlings and House Sparrows plundering the storm beach turf, and flying back to nest sites in the coastal housing with their beaks stuffed full of insects for hungry nestlings.
Just as we arrived back home calls came in from PB and OL telling of a, "Purple Heron heading your way", as they watched one fly over ARC towards Lade/Airport pits in company with a Grey Heron. With eggs and bacon to cook, the heron would have to wait...
A midday walk along the back of south lake looking for the Purp drew a predicable blank, but more hirundines were on the move, at last, along with a few Swifts, while a male Whinchat perched on a wire fence was some compensation.
A late afternoon visit had us checking out the main reedbed along the causeway and round to the swing-bridge. A Whimbrel went over calling, 20 Curlews headed back towards the bay and two Cuckoos flew over the willow swamp. A mixed flock of 50 odd hirundines and Swifts hawking insects low over north lake warranted closer inspection, and sure enough within their ranks was the springs first Red-rumped Swallow. I attempted a few shots with the bridge camera but it was hopeless. Fortunately, PB was soon on site and fired off a whole series of shots with the big lens, some of which I`m sure will be usable, so do check out his blog later for the results: www.ploddingbirder.blogspot.co.uk
So, May has started off with a bang rarity wise with a Long-billed Dowitcher and likely Iberian Chiffchaff yesterday, followed by Purple Heron and Red-rumped Swallow today. So, what will the weekend deliver? Maybe a Bee-eater or an early Squacco, and how about a nice shrike or a rare marsh tern, and surely the Poms will come through on Monday... We`ll just have to wait and see.