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Saturday 11th April 2020

A very pleasant and still morning with no wind whatsoever.

Migrants were thin on the ground with only 3 Blackcap and a Brambling in the Bushes. The numbers of finches hanging around have also increased, with 13 Goldfinch and 2 Greenfinch noted this morning and a number of the Linnet pairs have started nest building. 

On the Reserve were 20 Shelduck this morning, a singing Wheatear by the Tank Blocks and a Willow Warbler by the Mine Station. Overhead 3 Swallows, 4 Greylag Geese and 2 Canada Geese were noted.

On the sea 2 Whimbrel, 2 Curlew and a Fulmar headed north. A Common Seal was also seen.

In the moth trap this morning was the the first of the years Swallow Prominent, which is a species that is partial to Poplars.

Ringing: 1 Blackcap, 1 Chaffinch, 1 House Sparrow, 1 Robin, 1 Song Thrush.

Ernie Lucking

Sad news indeed. Ernie had a heart attack yesterday & didn't survive the night. Our sincere condolences to all his family & friends. Unfortunately due to the present situation we will not be able to circulate details of, or attend, his funeral. I am sure that all of you that knew Ernie will be as gutted as we at the observatory are.

Friday 10th April 2020

A quieter morning, with less birds present on site but brightened up by the female Brambling turning up in the Heligoland at first light.

Elsewhere in the bushes were at least 3 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff, 3 Firecrest and a Reed Bunting.  Overhead 2 Swallows, 3 Jackdaws, 2 Sparrowhawks and a Siskin headed south. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was also noted and a Jay headed west towards the Port.

On the reserve a Wheatear was still by the Tank Blocks, a White Wagtail was in with the Pieds and 21 Shelduck were on the nature reserve.

On the Sea 3 Red-breasted Mergansers headed south and a Fulmar headed north.

Ringing: 3 Blackcap, 1 Brambling, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Linnet, 1 Song Thrush.

Thursday 9th April 2020

A light north-easterly and hazy conditions this morning led to a few more birds being about than yesterday with the ringing being substantially better.

A flyover Glossy Ibis heading south over the point and into Essex started the morning and a Great Northern Diver headed north later, both of which were definitely the highlights of the morning. A Swallow and a Skylark also headed south.

In the bushes were at least 7 Blackcaps, with several birds in full song, 3 Song Thrush, 3 Chiffchaffs, 2 Willow Warblers, a Reed Bunting and a Firecrest.

Out on the reserve a Brambling made an appearance. A Black Redstart was by the Search Light Installation and 2 Wheatears were by the Tank Blocks. On the Jetty was a Purple Sandpiper and 2 Turnstone.

In the moth traps was the first Eudonia angustea of the year. It is a species of coastal sandhills and vegetated shingle, so Landguard is perfect for it.

Ringing: 6 Blackcap, 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Song Thrush, 1 Blackbird, 1 Blue Tit, 1 Dunnock, 1 Firecrest, 1 Goldfinch, 1 House Sparrow, 1 Linnet, 1 Robin, 1 Willow Warbler.

Wednesday 8th April 2020

A Supermoon is always a good way to start the day.

Glorious sunny start with the highlights being the first House Martin of the year and a Jay. Migrants, once again, hard to come by but include 2 Black Red, 2 Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Firecrest, continental Robin & Wheatear. 2 Jackdaw flew north & 5 Turnstone were at the point.

Small Quaker is not the most wonderfully gaudy species, but then again, it probably isn't complimentary about my appearance either ! It can be an abundant species in deciduous woodland but only occurs here infrequently.

Ringing: 1 Blackcap, 1 Black Redstart, 1 Linnet, 1 Robin.

Tuesday 7th April 2020

A little quieter today but still a nice movement of birds through the observatory. At least 6 Blackcaps, 6 Chiffchaff, a Willow Warbler a Firecrest and a Goldcrest were in the bushes, with a British Control Blackcap caught in the nets. A Brambling was also briefly in the Poplar Trees at the back of the Battery.

On the reserve, a single Wheatear was still by the Tank Blocks. A Stock Dove was amongst the Wood Pigeons and 3 Turnstones and a Purple Sandpiper were still at the Jetty.

On the Sea,18 Brent, 15 Common Scoter, 3 Shelduck and 2 Red-throated Divers headed North and a Greylag Goose and a Fulmar headed south.

Ringing: 5 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap, 2 Wren, 1 Great Tit, 1 Robin, 1 Goldcrest, 1 Firecrest.

Monday 6th April 2020

A morning of patchy cloud with a few spots of rain and a rainbow over the river. There was a small passage of migrants through this morning, with 6 Chiffchaffs, 3 Blackcaps, 2 Redwing, a Firecrest and a Goldcrest in the bushes.

On the Reserve the first 6 Swallows of the year headed south, 3 Wheatears were by the Tank Blocks, 2 Black Redstarts were mobile around the site and 3 Turnstone were still on the Jetty.

Offshore a Little Egret headed south, 7 Little Gulls headed east and the first 2 Common Terns of the year headed north. 2 Common Seals were also offshore.

The highlight of the morning was catching two control female Blackcaps, both of which were wearing Brussels rings and both caught in a single net round. Up to this point, only 4 Belgian ringed Blackcaps have been caught at the Obs. One of the rings looked quite new, so hopefully its only been put on in the last few days. The other ring is the 'older' and looks to be dirtier, so this is probably a little older...but we'll have to wait for the recovery data to be sure.

'new' on the left, 'old' style on the right

Ringing: 5 Chiffchaff, 2 Linnet, 2 Blackcap, 2 Wheatear, 1 Black Redstart, 1 House Sparrow, 1 Wren

Sunday 5th April 2020

Purps occasionally hang on into early May.

A flock of 13 Little Gull flew down the river & straight out with another goodly gang of 30 over the Fort then straight out to sea over an hour later. These are presumably birds migrating overland from the Atlantic Ocean to the North Sea that descend to sea level when confronted by a strong onshore wind. As next to no time put into sea watching this morning no doubt other flocks were missed.

Migrants on site hard to come by but included 2 Chaffinch, 2 Redwing, Black Redstart, Chiffchaff, Fieldfare plus southbound 3 Goldfinch, 2 Jackdaw, 2 Siskin & Mipit.

Peacock butterflies have no problem getting into the buildings to hibernate in the autumn but when it comes to finding their way out in the spring it is a completely different story. When rescued from the inside of dirty cobweb covered windows they don't take long to warm up in order to get on with their lives.

Ringing: 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Wren