A little bit of rain ain’t so bad…


A morning of prolonged rain seemed as good a time as any to pop over to Martin Mere to pick up a new ‘scope strap from In Focus today, although the south easterly wind direction suggested it mightn’t be a total loss.
Wasn’t expecting a Bittern though!
The bird was fishing amongst the lush overhanging vegetation around the “Kingfisher” pool, and showed very well from the ground floor of the Ronnie Barker Hide, although it had gone out of sight for an hour or so after being first found earlier in the day.
Hard to digiscope because of all the vegetation, the Bittern caught fish fry a few times and what looked like a frog, but it was down its gullet before you could say Botaurus Stellaris…a fine soggy carpet bag for a fine soggy Sunday.


Two Green Sandpipers, with Ruff, Blackwit and Snipe from the Ronnie Barker hide too, and a juvenile Cuckoo which was being battered by hirundines over the water before it sheltered in a line of willows and scrub.
Walked round in the rain to the United Utilities hide after that lot in the hope of picking up the Wood Sand there.
The bird took some digging out, and I eventually got it in my ‘scope right at the back of the marsh feeding close to Common Sandpipers and Little Ringed Plovers. Pity it was so far off – always good to see a Wood Sandpiper.
While I was looking for the sandpiper, this weird young Marsh Harrier came floating by – really orange on the shoulders, with a bleached blonde chest.


Not bad for a soggy Sunday plus a botanical bonus in flowering Broad Leaved Helleborine by the path down towards the Janet Kear and UU hides too….


One thought on “A little bit of rain ain’t so bad…

  1. Some stay, some go, but 2013 to 2014 was a good year for many of Britain’s birds. The latest results from the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) brought some short-term, positive news for a suite of both migratory and resident species against a backdrop of long-term declines for many, long-distance migrants in particular.
    The possible reasons for these short-term increases vary between species. There is no evidence that the 2013 breeding season was a particularly good one, and for some species it was a poor season, probably related to the fact it was the UK’s coldest spring since 1962.
    Lesser Whitethroat (+34%), Whitethroat (+18%), Tree Pipit (+31%), Willow Warbler (+6%) and the familiar Cuckoo (+27%) are among the long-distance species, that travel south of the Sahara for the winter months, to have increased between 2013 and 2014.
    The survival of migratory species is thought to be influenced by rainfall levels in the Sahel, just south of the Sahara. This applies for species that spend the winter there, such as Lesser Whitethroat and Whitethroat, and those that use the region as a stop-over site (a place to rest and refuel before continuing further south), such as Tree Pipit, Willow Warbler and Cuckoo. Rainfall levels affect the availability of insect prey on which these species rely. Rainfall in the region during the summer of 2013 was just below the long-term average, so this doesn’t provide a ready explanation for the respite seen in this year’s BBS report, but the three years previous to this included two that were amongst the wettest since the late 1960s, possibly leading to generally better conditions in the area in the winter of 2013/14.
    Despite the favourable short-term trends revealed in the BBS report, the long-term trends for many of ‘our’ migratory species are not so positive. Between 1995 and 2013, Cuckoo declined by 46%, Spotted Flycatcher by 47%, Whinchat by 54%, Wood Warbler by 58%, Pied Flycatcher by 60% and, Turtle Dove by 91%, with large decreases also found in several other species.
    There are many factors throughout the migration route and on the wintering grounds that could be playing a part in the alarming decline of long-distance migrants. Wetland loss and degradation and the clearance of wooded savannah is likely to be affecting the wintering grounds of long-distance migrants, and the loss of migration stop-over sites, and hunting and trapping along the way, may compound the problem for some species.
    The latest BBS results also have good news for ‘partial migrants’, species in which some individuals stay in the UK for the winter, while others venture as far south as North Africa. Increases between 2013 and 2014 were found for Chiffchaff (+21%), Blackcap (+14%) and Meadow Pipit (+14%).
    There was good news for resident species too, which remain in the UK for the winter. There were short-term increases for Stonechat (+76%), Kingfisher (+50%), Grey Wagtail (+50%) and Wren (+34%). In general, the mild winter of 2013/14 is thought to have helped the survival of resident species. Residents are susceptible to harsh weather conditions when life gets tough, both in terms of finding food and expending extra energy just to keep warm.


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