Monday, 5 April 2021

It begins...

After a dribs and drabs sort of affair for much of March (quite apt after my last blog post), migration has at last stepped up a gear in the past week with some real goodies turning up at Pulborough in recent days.

The undoubted star of the show was the stunning male Pied Flycatcher which has been present since Saturday morning until the time of writing. It was performing particularly well this morning along the fence line in the northeast corner of Brook Field, and this evening was flicking around one of the large Oaks up Green Lane. Although we've had a couple of good autumns for this species on the reserve, this certainly wasn't one on my radar to add to the year list so soon. Indeed, it's the first one I've seen in the spring here, and the first adult male I've seen anywhere for years.

Pied Flycatcher

One of the true harbingers of spring at Pulborough, the first Nightingale of the year rather hesitantly announced its arrival along Adder Alley on Easter Day, followed by another singing very briefly at the Hanger this evening; three days earlier than my previous earliest record here. 

There's a nice selection of waders to be seen on the North Brooks now, with up to three pairs of Avocet looking very settled, plus up to three Little Ringed Plovers, several pairs of Redshank and Lapwing and five Ruff. 24 Black-tailed Godwit stayed for a few days last week, many resplendent in breeding plumage, but these have since moved on. A Grey Plover on the North Brooks this morning was the first I've seen on the reserve since 2019. Sadly, its stay was short-lived as it met its end at the talons of a Peregrine this afternoon. 

Wildfowl numbers have really dropped now. There were a couple of drake Pintails lingering into this weekend and a dozen or so Wigeon and Shoveler as of yesterday but otherwise it's only really the Teal hanging on in reasonable numbers. The first Garganey of the year, a splendid drake, showed well on the North Brooks on Wednesday and Thursday but hasn't been seen since.

Garganey. Photo: Dave Carlsson

Warbler numbers continue to increase, with dozens of Chiffchaffs around now, many paired up and already nest building, and Blackcap numbers are steadily building too. The first Willow Warbler turned up on 31st March, followed by at least two more this past weekend. Strangely no Sedge Warbler or Whitethroat yet, although it's still early days, but the Cetti's Warbler persists below the Hanger.


It took until the last weekend of March for me to see my first Sand Martins, and Swallows only began trickling through last week, but this past weekend has seen good numbers of both, plus the first House Martin of the year on Easter Day.

Other highlights from this weekend included a year first Great Crested Grebe on the Arun on Saturday and Sunday, a fly-through male Hen Harrier on Saturday and a sloughing male Adder enjoying the sun (out of the wind!) most days.

Great Crested Grebe


After such a great ten days or so, my patch year list now stands on 119, out of a total of 121 for the reserve so far. Hopefully once this icy spell has passed the flood gates will really open!