Spring 2013 has been a slightly disappointing one for interesting migrants on the farm. In previous years we have been treated to a steady trickle of migrant waders stopping off to feed during their northward migration and I had come to expect Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper and a selection of others to drop in. This year just singletons of Greenshank and Wood Sandpiper have appeared and there have been few other surprises. The reasons for this are unclear, although I suspect that it just hasn't been a particularly good year as I believe other wader sites around the county have reported a generally poor spring wader passage.
Anyway, there have been some recent sightings of interest. The first sign of autumn migration came in the form of a Green Sandpiper seen on the 14th - the classic first indication of the onset of autumn wader passage. The post breeding flocks of Lapwings are beginning to build, but there seem to be very few juveniles amongst them so far. A flock of 36 was comprised almost entirely of adult birds. At least one pair of Lapwings fledged a chick on Bridge Field and there are three pairs on the neighbouring fallow arable field with young. Elsewhere in the vale there are some part grown Lapwing chicks at Flotmanby Carr, so although it has been a poor year for Lapwings, perhaps not the total washout that I feared at one stage.
This morning I was surprised to hear the territorial calls of a Redshank - the first encounter with this species on the farm since the winter. Perhaps this individual is a bird that has failed to breed elsewhere and likes the look of the conditions on the farm. It is a species that has now been seen on a number of occasions in the past three years and one we hope to attract to breed in due course.
The water levels have been dropped on North Screed and it is now steadily drying out. The remaining deeper pools seem to be attractive to Grey Herons and up to four have been crowded around them. A Little Egret joined them on 14th June - only the third individual seen on the farm.
An Egyptian Goose remains in residence (though where has its mate gone?) and the duck numbers have started to increase as birds finish breeding and begin to find places to moult. Up to eight Teal, two Shoveler, a Gadwall and over 30 Mallard have been present over the past week or so. A sighting of a Peregrine this morning perhaps relates to one of the birds from the late winter/early spring period and doubtless it is eyeing up a duck for a meal.