Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Good migrants with a Jackie surprise

Škocjanski zatok NR: after several months of drought yesterday it finally started to rain. We are now having quite changable weather with rain showers, thus migration has stopped for a while. Today it proved an excellent time to be out in the field. In the course of the morning I counted a good variety (and quality) of migrants.
Within the large clouds of Swallows flying over the marsh there were also about 15 House Martins and my first 5 SAND MARTINS this year. Common Swifts numbered cca 30 birds.
Best bird of the day was a JACK SNIPE feeding in the freshwater marsh, completely out of cover on a stretch of mud. It was feeding with the distinctive bobbing movement and stitching with the bill (first 2 pics above). A short video here.
Close nearby, on the grassy field were my first 4 WHEATEARS of the season (2 males and 2 females) - always a pleasure to see the smart males in spring. About 20 Yellow Wagtails of three different forms were also pretty obvious. These included 2 feldegg, 2-3 cinereocapilla and the others being all flava. A few breeding-plumaged Water Pipits were still around, along with 3 Meadow Pipits and a Skylark.
Also of interest were: 7 Pochards, 1 Tufted Duck, 2 Ferruginous Ducks (m and f), 95 Teals, 25 Shovelers, 3 Penduline Tits, 2 Common Gulls,13 Greenshanks, 4 Great Crested Grebes, 4 female Marsh Harriers (hunting over the marsh), my first singing NIGHTINGALE this year, 61 Ruffs, 16 Black-winged Stilts, flock of 13 NIGHT HERONS (over the Ara canal), 5 Purple Herons (landing in the marsh), 1 singing Wryneck (only heard), 1 LESSER WHITETHROAT (in the bushes by the lagoon), 1 Willow Warbler, 18 Common Terns in the lagoon (very noisy), 19 Wood Sandpipers, 4 Curlews, 16 Garganeys, 8 Little Ringed Plovers, 1 Snipe, a few Blackcaps, 4 Spotted Redshanks, 3 Wigeons, 2 Black-tailed Godwits and a female Kestrel.
The drake GREEN-WINGED TEAL was still present on the same stretch of shallow water in front of the first screening.
Pics above (top to bottom): Jack Snipe (first two), male Wheatear, Night Herons, Swallows & Sand Martin, House Martin, Ashy-headed Wagtail (cinereocapilla).