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Tuesday, 10 April 2018

A grim day but a record breaking walk?

Photo courtesy Keith Whitehouse
To use the vernacular American term, every now and then, birding throws you a 'curve ball'! And today was such a day.

I set out to try and connect with some summer visitors which I thought might be pushed down by the recent rainfall. I decided to avoid the mineral line as I don't own a Kayak and instead, walked the edge of the buffer zone hoping to find some sheltering migrants. I had just passed onto the Mere when a party of six finches flushed into a nearby tree.

One was obviously a Chaffinch but the other five looked quite plain, several showing a hint of a pale wing flash. I eventually managed to get onto four of the birds and was surprised to find not summer visitors but instead winter visitors in the form of four Lesser Redpoll. Sadly they were all Lessers and there was no of sign of last winters Common Redpoll which I suspect is now somewhere much further north? The sixth bird eventually came into view and I was pleased to note that it showed a much finer bill and it eventually resolved itself into a female (or Juvenile) Blackcap.

Summer and winter sharing the same bush.

My return home along the railway line complemented this with a second bird, this time a singing male. It was not until I paused on the railway bridge to observe the pools at Pelsall Road that I received the 'Curve ball' that I alluded to.

I had hopes that the high water might serve to make the local Water Rail more apparent but instead my attention was drawn to a Blue Tit which was being harassed around the reed bed by an obvious warbler which I first assumed to be a Chiffchaff. When the bird came briefly to rest however, I was amazed to find myself looking instead at what appeared to be a Reed Warbler!

A remarkable record?
Now you may not think this particularly impressive until I tell you that it would be my earliest record EVER (by six days) and would be thirteen days earlier than my first record last year (my average arrival date for this species is around the 21st to 23rd of April with some years not showing birds until early May)! I have not been able to find any records of this species in the UK so far in 2018 so if it was a Reed it would be a remarkable occurence

I know that birds usually move in quietly but if this was a Reed, it would be a totally unexpected and unprecedented event in my experience, but I suppose we will have to expect this type of anomaly as global warming starts to have an effect on migration patterns? - Chaz