Bird Sightings at Saltfleetby-Theddlethorpe NNR – April 15th to May 6th

We join Cliff Morrison, our regular bird blogger and volunteer with our Lincolnshire Natural England team at Saltfleetby-Theddlethorpe NNR, for another great update on the ever-changing birdlife that the reserve is currently home to.

In my previous blog, mention was made of the continuing cold conditions during the first 2 weeks of April, with wind from the NW-NE quarter and blocking the journeys of many incoming summer migrants. These conditions were maintained for the rest of the month, only changing to more Atlantic cyclonic conditions into May, with storms on 3rd and 4th.

Despite the adverse conditions, most of the summer migrants had made it to their breeding areas on the reserve before the end of April, with the first cuckoo being heard on the 19th and turtle dove on the 29th.

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Male Wheatear 16/04/21 Owen Beaumont

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Male and Female Ring Ouzels 29/04/21 Cliff Morrison

Migrants on passage through the reserve included a further black redstart on 16th April and red kite south on 20th. Wheatears stopped over in the Rimac area on several days, with up to 5 often being seen, whilst ring ouzels were noted in the same general area were present as singles from the 16th, with 2 on 28th, staying for several days. A further 2 were in the southern area of the reserve as well. A flock of up to 60 fieldfares, present from the 29th April, stayed in the Rimac area until at least the 4th May will have been birds awaiting favourable weather conditions before they could continue their onward journey to northern Europe/Scandinavia.

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Lttle Egret, Cliff Morrison

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Great White Egret, Owen Beaumont

Wading birds were a particular feature of the period, with up to 2 great white egrets present in the Rimac area from the 24th April to date. They were often to be seen close to and towering over little egrets and on occasions, close to and standing a little taller than a grey heron. A splendid spoonbill in full breeding plumage was also seen for several days from the 29th, favouring Paradise Pools towards Saltfleet.

Up to 60 whimbrels were also present, particularly on the short the saltmarsh turf and adjoining grasslands. These slightly smaller cousins of curlew winter in Africa and breed in Northern Scotland, Scandinavia and Iceland. Most of the wintering curlew had departed by early May.

Up to 8 avocets had been present on the saltmarsh lagoon and Paradise lagoon, where conditions were favourable for breeding, but the closer than usual approach of the ‘pink’ full moon to earth realised particularly high spring tides, flooding the areas. The tides will also have wiped out many breeding birds on the marsh, but there will be plenty of time for renesting in hopefully more favourable weather going forward.

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Spoonbill, Cliff Morrison

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Grey Heron, Cliff Morrison

Cliff Morrison, 8th May 2021.