Today saw the first good fall of migrants on patch this spring. Unfortunately this morning I had to go into Exeter and missed a valuable patch photo year-list tick in the form of a Red-breasted Merganser on the estuary, we usually only see them on the sea. I arrived about an hour and a half after I had the text message about it from Gav but it appeared to have gone. What I did see though were my first Sand Martins of the year. There was a steady trickle of them flying in and up the estuary low over the surface of the flat calm water, a lovely sight to cheer up what was a miserable day weather-wise. I counted around a dozen but it appears that they didn't hang around because later in the afternoon none could be seen anywhere. They'll be sorry they left so hastily when they reach the snowfields of the Midlands and T'North! After lunch I went for a look on the beach and around the Axe Yacht Club hoping to see my first Wheatear of the year too. I soon did, and guess what? It was a female! Here she is...
No 68 Wheatear.
I reckon that there's a good chance I'll be able to improve on this photo before the year's out but one simply MUST photograph one's first Wheatear of the season don't you know!
No.69 Great Crested Grebe
I probably won't improve on this effort because this is another bird we only get on the sea here- usually pretty distant too. This one very kindly came within a mile or two of the shore this afternoon.
My first Wheatear soon flew off over the harbour toward the large horse field on the other side I followed with my bins and noticed a familiar figure....
Something told me there were probably more Wheatears in the field .
Probably the same female I saw in the harbour
A more typical March Wheatear.
A cracking adult male. Staying nice and distant as the first arrivals invariably do!
There was a lovely female type Black Redstart in the harbour area too. It could have been a recent arrival but may be the wintering individual lingering. Gav had noticed me and come over to see what I was photographing, whilst we were admiring the very confiding Blackred I spotted a familiar shape zoom past us .... A Swallow!! In the blink of an eye it was gone, heading off west along the beach. It must be my earliest ever sighting of a Swallow. What a welcome sight! If only it really was the harbinger of summer....
To end - some photos of the Black Redstart which turned out quite well considering the low shutter speeds I had to use. I had to employ a variety of objects as makeshift tripods: Breeze blocks, rocks, boats, my knees, etc... worth it though.
It was picking out bits of stem like this and breaking them open and eating the contents, which I assume is some sort of larvae.