Monday, August 14, 2006

Wheatears in Oxenhope 2006

This year my migration watch commenced on 1st of April and ended on the 18th of May, the sites watched were Trough Lane, Fly Flatts Res, Nab Water Lane, Leeshaw Res and occasionally the members access reservoir.

After a slow start, my first sighting was of 13 birds on the 4th of April but by mid month the numbers were up on the same period of the previous year despite the inclement weather. By the month end I had counted 247 birds at the five locations the bulk of these again being Trough Lane with 181. The total month count was 79 up on the previous year but well below the count of 335 in April 2004.

Early May usually sees an upsurge in numbers passing through and this was again the case with 26 birds at Trough Lane on the morning of the 3rd then tailing off and ending on the 18th with two birds at Thornton Moor giving a total of 83 for the month and a combined total of 330 over the Spring watch period. Again the bulk of the sightings, 251 were at Trough Lane, this is obviously a major rest and recuperation stopover on this migration route.

Inevitably double counting cannot be ruled out, although most visits were made early morning, and the birds appear to move on quickly in the spring, at times drifting off whilst I was on site , and passing through Trough Lane later in the day as I often do gave reduced or nil counts.

Unfortunately I was unable to identify any Greenland Wheatears among the total, and unusually there was no sign of early male Whinchats seen in previous spring .

Brian Vickers