April through to August 2016.
With spring in the air, the birding picked up with summer migrants arriving and even one or two birds to ‘go for’. It was a cold spring and things were still a bit slow at times, but there was plenty of action.
On the first day of the month a mandarin was reported at Belton. I saw a pair there the following day, then four birds on the 4th, (one a leucistic bird). There weren’t an awful lot of scarce and rares turning up so I spent a good deal of time on patch at Marston and some good birding was enjoyed. The first wheatear arrived on the 4th. It was absolutely superb for wagtails, certainly the best in Lincs. I was watching a sheep field where the first yellow wagtails turned up on the 8th, building to about 60 by the end of the month. Arriving with the yellows were white wagtails, my best daily count was 25 of these. A smart ‘channel’ wagtail showed up on the 17th and stayed to the months end, also an eastern type (nordic) jackdaw. The first blue-headed wagtail was seen on the 20th, with three there on the 24th, one seen into May. (poss 4 or 5 different individuals altogether). While birding this hotspot I was also lucky enough to see a couple of male ring ouzels, both males, showing very well for half an hour, early morning on the 8th. A pair of ravens frequented the sheep field for several days and wheatears and red kites were regular. Although I reported sightings and directions, hardly any other birders bothered to visit, it was great to have it to myself. Trev Lee and Ben Ward were the only other birders I met there.
Away from Marston a lesser-spotted woodpecker was finally logged at Hartsholme park Lincoln, after many previous, fruitless visits. A trip to Alkborough on the 9th with Ben Ward resulted in a green-winged teal along with the first little ringed plover of the year. Seawatching at Gib point on the 11th, a very early manx shearwater passed, with a few other seabirds. A glaucus gull at Grimsby docks gave great views on the 18th. My first of many wood sandpipers came on the 25th at Frampton, and the first swifts arrived on the last day of the month at Marston. Most of the commoner migrants had been logged by now, but the month ended a little disappointingly with three visits to Burgh-le-Marsh for a hoopoe, it was seen on these dates but not by me. That’s how it goes.
Lincs yearlist now up to 174 species. (BOU)
The first of the rare waders turned up at Frampton marsh on the 3rd, when a black-winged stilt put in an appearance. Scarcer breeding migrants like grasshopper warbler, turtle dove, cuckoo and nightingale were added to the list the following day. My first black terns were seen at Whisby a couple of days later. I was unable to get over to Gib point on the 7th for the first Lincs mega of the year (alpine accentor). The bird was gone next morning, this hurt a bit but compensation came in the form of a western bonelli’s warbler, a first for Lincs, found by Kev Wilson. Saw my first spoonbill of the year that day too. Birds were coming thick and fast now, with a very showy wryneck at Frampton the following day. Curlew sandpipers and little stint were also registered. A call from Dean Nic on the 11th had me nipping to Norton Disney, where I added Caspian gull, yellow-legged gull and arctic tern. I twitched all the way back from Hertfordshire on the 13th for the first of two broad-billed sandpipers at Frampton marsh. A hooded crow was a rare County bird at Kirkby-on-Bain mid month. Two dotterels at Horshoe point were another great addition on 19th, thought I’d missed my chance with them.
My list was now up to a nice round 200 species (BOU list rules), with another 6 or 7 well recognised sub species/races.
The early part of the month was good, on the first day BW and myself found a red-necked phalarope at Crook bank, the only County record of the year. An osprey at Ancaster was the only one I saw in Lincs. The Water’s Edge great reed warbler showed very well on the 5th. Nige Lound texted me on the 13th for a fine caspian tern, at Middlemarsh, near Skegness. Towards the end of the month things were starting to quieten down a bit, so a few trips seeking out the remainder of the scarce breeding birds resulted in long-eared owl, crossbill, and nightjar.
Yearlist now 207 (BOU).
July was understandably quiet, with just five new birds seen. Tree pipits showed well at Scotten common and a couple of quail were heard at Grainthorpe haven. I saw my first sandwich terns of the year. Towards the months end the expected wader fest began to happen at Frampton, but the first ‘good un’ was a pectoral sandpiper near Horncastle. Caspian gull was uprated to self-found with ‘stumpy’, the famous one-legged bird at Norton Disney on the 23rd. On the 25th, at Frampton another broad-billed sandpiper, and another pec showed very, very well. It took me four attempts before I saw a white-rumped sandpiper, on the 29th.
List now 212 (BOU).
Wader season was now in full swing and my third pec sand was a self find, with Ben W, at Freiston shore. Following an all day search on 6th, the squacco heron at Far Ings was seen flying in to roost. Some bearded tits seen here were my first of the year. First whinchat of the Autumn was logged on 8th and great skua on 16th, both at Freiston. Things went a bit slow mid month, loads of seawatching, loads of searching for migrants, loads of very early starts produced plenty of seabirds, waders and migrants, good stuff but nothing too rare. First pied flycatcher was registered on 22nd at Seaview. BW found a temminck’s stint the following day at Whisby that I dashed for and got just before dark. A ruddy shelduck showed at Alkborough on 27th, where we re-visited on 31st to look for the western swamphen. It didn’t show, that one would have to wait until the next day. We did see four ruddy shelducks this time, though.
List now 218 (BOU).
The final instalment of my big year will follow. Sept, Oct and Nov were set to be non stop, as Lincolnshire enjoyed some top birding moments and some great birds. I will also publish my complete list.