Expert Plastering and a Big Bill

There is surely something wrong with weather as today was the second Bank Holiday in a row that the sun has shone. I started the day at Swanwick doing a breeding bird survey. There were no surprises but an overflying lapwing was the first I had seen there and it was good to hear a cuckoo. I did find a nuthatch nest, the adults were feeding noisy youngsters in a nest hole that was only some 1.5m above the ground, most nests I have found have been high up, usually at least 4m up. The nest holes are plastered with mud to make them the right size but it is done so neatly it is hard to believe that it is the work of a bird!

nuthtach nest hole

nuthatch nest hole

After the survey I spent the rest of the day at Farlington. It was pretty quiet on the whole, at least some of the lapwing broods are still surviving and the mute swan at the Deeps have hatched at least six cygnets. Near the Willow pool on the south wall a male wheatear was interesting to see, these late May birds are probably mostly bound for Greenland or even north-east Canada, later in the day we found another three in North Marsh and there may well have been five in all.

I wen north of the road to escape the rather brisk southerly wind and seek some insects, I was not disappointed, there are finally some hoverflies around. There are several black hoverflies and Cheilosia variablis is one of the largest.

Cheilosia variablis

Cheilosia variablis

I also saw my first Myathropa florea of the year too, a large species and very distinctive with transverse bars on the thorax.

Myathropa florea

Myathropa florea

I also saw a good few snipe-fly, I rather liked this ones shadow, the species is Rhagio scolopacae.

snipefly

snipe-fly

It was also just about the first day this year that I have seen good numbers of damselflies out, I saw a few at Swanwick on Saturday, but there were many more today.

large red damselfly

large red damselfly

The large red damselfly is the first to emerge each year, I have seen them in late March one year, but the azure damselfly is the most abundant.

azure damselfly

azure damselfly

Where the saltwater has leaked under the road into the field there has formed an upper saltmarsh habitat and one of the most attractive plants to have colonised is the lesser sea-spurry, with tiny, but very bright flowers.

lesser sea-spurry

lesser sea-spurry

There are various sayings about when summer has arrived, or maybe it is spring, but in any case they refer to how many daisies a foot can cover, I cannot remember how many it is but whatever the season it would seem to have arrived at last.

daisies

daisies

Generally the day was quiet for birds, apart from the wheatear there were a few waders; about 80 black-tailed godwit, a dunlin, 7 ringed plover, a whimbrel and a few grey plover. There is always a chance of something rarer amongst the waders at this time, but not today. However as I was leaving I was told there was a spoonbill on the Lake and sure enough there it was, a first summer bird, with a rather pinkish bill.

spoonbill

spoonbill

It spent most of the time asleep, but did have a bit of a scratch before dozing again.

spoonbill

spoonbill

In miscellaneous news, the wasp beetle picture I posted on the blog the other day was also posted on Flickr and was made a favourite by BBC Springwatch.

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