The fledged Stonechats were sprightly enough, still looking good after leaving the nest a month or so back, but the rear dunes are changing now.
It has been a few weeks since I managed a circuit of my mini-patch but I got out for 40 minutes south of Shore Road at Ainsdale today and was immediately struck by the silence – the birds have stopped singing.
I should qualify that – the Herring Gull colony on the flat rooftops of Pontins is as full of noise and life as ever (the peace of the shut-down allowed the birds to take over) and the mournful “hooeting” of young Willow Warblers moving south through the scrub and occasionally pausing to flycatch ineptly added to the soft “tuc-tuc” of Whitethroats proved there was still avian life in them there dunes…but at a reduced level.
The sherbet lemon young Willow Warblers are always a treat, but seem to pass through in a fraction of the numbers of the days when the “Irish Sea Willow Warbler Movement” at this time of year was a thing – cue birders of a certain age to go all misty-eyed.
The trade-off, as Tony F alluded to in the comments yesterday, is the blaze of late summer floral colour – sure the orchids have mostly gone over, but Harebells, Ragwort, Evening Primrose, Stitchwort, Eyebright, Meadowsweet and carpets of fading Kidney Vetch with Restharrow and Wild Parsley were as breath-taking as ever.
Bird’s eye views of Self-heal crowns and clumps of Common Centaury – yellows, blues and pinks as stunning as any machair flower-scape up in the far north, and that’s without getting into the frontal dunes!