Monday, 9 April 2012

Springtime in the marsh

Škocjanski zatok NR: this afternoon I took a friend around the reserve. Lovely sunny weather with good light conditions but a cold breeze from the south. Immediately on arrival we noticed a huge flock of Common Swifts over the freshwater marsh. There were about 250-300 birds swirling around. On closer inspection we discovered there was an even bigger flock of Swallows - estimated about 400 birds; quite impressive. All very busy catching insects and flying low over the water. Within the big gathering there were also at least 30-50 House Martins and +10 Sand Martins (beautiful and close views).
The top highlight were my first LITTLE BITTERNS this year: a female perched in the hedge by the path and a male flying past us at few meters. Fantastic! A Spotted Crake swimming in the main reedbed area was also of interest. Within a small group of Yellow Wagtails (6-7 in total) we found a nice Grey-headed Wagtail (thunbergi ssp). It had clearly a yellow throat and dark grey head, unlike the cinereocapillas nearby. Most were flava though, but no sign of feldeggs.
The drake GREEN-WINGED TEAL was still present in the marsh, working up and down its usual stretch of water.
Other birds of interest included: 2-3 Garganeys, 2 Black-necked Grebes (breeding plumage), 1 female Marsh Harrier, 1 Sparrowhawk, 10 Black-winged Stilts, 6 Little Ringed Plovers, 3 Lapwings, several Wood Sandpipers, 2 noisy Redshanks in the lagoon, 2 Spotted Redshanks, several Greenshanks, 3 Curlews, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Snipes, just 2 remaining Ruffs (the majority probably moved on), 2 Common Terns in the lagoon, 1 Water Pipit (breeding plumage), 1 Nightingale (calling in the hedge), 3 singing Sedge Warblers (reedbed area) and a fly-by Jackdaw.
Pics above showing a Swallow & part of the freshwater marsh and two Sand Martins flying low over the water.