Monday, 23 April 2012

Lincolnshire Delights

Today I went down to Lincolnshire on one of Michael Flower’s excellent trips (see Michael's blog). The target species was the Nightingale. We went last year at the same time and the selected site was stuffed to overflowing with passerine migrants – ten singing Nightingales, Garden Warblers, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, and Willow Warblers – so the expectation for today was high.

The weather today was not as good as a year ago. I took a look at the Met Office forecast for RAF Waddington (just up the road), and that suggested overcast conditions with a 20% chance of a shower. In fairness the forecast wasn’t too far wrong, but when the only shower arrived, it was a bit of a downpour. We all took shelter under the trees, protecting the camera equipment from the rain.
The Nightingales were certainly in aural evidence, although this year we counted only 5 singing males. A couple made themselves seen, but spent most of the time out of the way. The other warblers were also a bit in short supply. We didn’t hear one Garden Warbler, but there were several Blackcaps, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaff. Even the Swallows numbers were low. Some of this could have been the overcast conditions, but Michael told us of reports that many birds had been held up in their migration because of bad weather in Spain. Let’s hope it improves soon.

Willow Warbler
After lunch I went back to find the Nightingales again. One particularly took my interest, and I spent a good hour following it as it moved around its territory. Given the energy and volume this bird puts into its choral repertoires it is not surprising that it needs to refuel between performances. I watched as one bird sought out morsels in the undergrowth, occasionally coming to the edge of the hedging and into plain view on the paths. If only that had been more predictable, then I would have had some better photos. As it was I had to wait patiently for the bird to come to rest in its singing position.


Getting ready to sing

At full volume

Pausing before an encore

Just having a rest
I love these birds. They are master songsters, and are by no means as dowdy as some would describe their plumage to be. It is just such a shame that their territory does not extend just that bit further north into East Yorkshire. Come on climate change!!!

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