Friday, 4 May 2012

Terntastic: Arctic Bonanza in the LDV!

Work was fairly uneventful today, partially due to the poor weather on my site - wind, rain etc! The only highlights were the Common Swifts that were trying to head north into the wind.

Got a message from Tim saying he'd had a few Arctic/Common/Commic Terns heading north through the LDV so the old dear and I headed over to Thorganby to take up a good viewpoint in order to look out for some birds. At first it was pretty dull, a quick count of the waterfowl resulted in 240 Tufted Duck, 3 Pochard, 3 Great Crested Grebe and plenty of Shelduck. Then it started to get interesting...

Arctic Tern is an annual passage migrant in the LDV, virtually all records relate to birds moving directly over the area on an easterly or northeasterly flight path. Peak movement usually occurs during the first week of May.  The highest total is the 227 that flew east through Wheldrake on 2nd May 1983, the next highest total is 83 recorded in May 1996. Today we smashed the second highest count and if it wasn't for having a day of work, may have had the potential to beat the record! A couple of weeks back I had 3 Arctic Terns flying east through Bubwith which was fairly exciting, however today blew that out of the water!

First off was a flock of 14 birds at 16:20 hrs, followed by flocks of 21, 6, 45, 46, 6, 7 up to 18:00 hrs, and finally a flock of 3 up to 19:20 hrs; for a whopping total of 148 birds, the second highest LDV count ever! Add to that the 15-20 birds Tim had earlier in the day and you're looking at a staggering total of 163-168 birds! It was incredible to be able to see these pelagic species so close to home, they are just such fantastic looking birds with their massive streamer tails.  All the birds we saw powered their way north following more-or-less the same route. At times they were above the trees but would then drop to fly inches over the water.

I managed to get the usual poor quality images on my phone (below) - but in my defence phone-scoping birds in flight is pretty difficult!

 2 Arctic Tern heading north (phone-scoped)

4 Arctic Terns heading north (phone-scoped) 

 12 Arctic Terns heading north (phone-scoped)

4 Arctic Terns (phone-scoped)

Late on a male Peregrine flew through, and a short while later a Hobby flew west. There was also plenty of Hirundines and Swifts flying about. The resident Little Owl was pretty vocal too.

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