Bird News from Nial Moores
Following the rain and snow of the 21st, a sudden progression into spring. In the estuary, few ducks, swans or gulls remain (best being seven Saunders’s Gull) – instead at least 60 Far Eastern Curlew and eight Bar-tailed Godwit. One White-tailed Eagle also present.
Above the estuary barrage, in reed and ponds and open fields, a total of six Garganey (including several displaying males), 13 Little Ringed Plover and further signs of spring with several group of Barn Swallow (probably 60 seen during the afternoon) and three Pacific Swift.
Garganey Spatula querquedula © Nial Moores (looking at the bill, the “new” scientific name adopted by the IOC and our 2018 checklist seems to make quite a lot of sense!).
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius © Nial Moores
Other likely early northbound migrants included 200 Black-headed Gull, c. 40 Dusky and one Naumann’s Thrush, 4+ Common Starling and 60+ Buff-bellied Pipit (a slight increase on the numbers here a few weeks ago).
Dusky Thrush Turdus eunomus © Nial Moores
Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris poltaratskyi © Nial Moores
Buff-bellied Pipit Anthus rubescens japonicus © Nial Moores. While a few were orange-pink below, most that were seen well were still largely in worn non-breeding plumage, looking quite spotty on the breast, with flank-streaking and a head pattern recalling Olive-backed Pipit.
Several of the other birds seen during several hours of walking the trails were likely lingering over-winterers, however, including 860 Taiga Bean Goose, two Japanese Quail, single Northern Lapwing and three Common Snipe, a single Eurasian Hoopoe, and 15+ Pallas’s Reed Bunting, many of which are now progressing well into breeding plumage (and four of which were watched flycatching, launching out several meters from a clump of reed: my first time to see this behaviour).
Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus © Nial Moores
Three different male Pallas’s Reed Bunting Emberiza pallasi © Nial Moores. Most of the males were progressing well into breeding plumage. Over the years, few have shown their lesser coverts as well as the one above!
Presumed Second Calendar-year male Pallas’s Reed Bunting © Nial Moores. Identified as a male because of the dark ear coverts and crown, hint of a bib, darkening lower mandible and strong ginger wash to some of the unstreaked nape-collar, this looks to be a Second Calendar-year based on the slow progression into breeding plumage – an ageing perhaps also supported by the dark flank streaks and spiky-looking tail feathers (?)
Female Pallas’s Reed Bunting © Nial Moores. This particular bird was the sandiest-looking one seen during the day. The call was also different – shorter and rather more sparrow-like than “typical.”