We have had our share of summer migrants already with Sand Martin, Little Ring Plover, Swallow and, of course, Osprey but it doesn't seem like Spring until the first Wheatear arrives. Perhaps it is because they are such super-smart birds that their appearance is always an event to celebrate in the birding calendar. Last year, the first turned up on March 22, which I don't think was particularly early, so they are overdue. But so far, they have been pretty scarce in London.
Traditionally, it is the east bank of Lockwood which attracts Wheatears in the Spring and so it was again today. The honour of the first of the year goes to GH who was out quickest after the rain and had a female briefly in the SE corner. By the time I joined him, a spanking male had dropped in near the same spot. It seemed very skittish - probably because of the still strong winds - which explains the even worse than usual picture. Like the first, it seemed to quickly move on.
Just to make sure we weren't going to miss them, another - a second female - was seen by JP at the paddocks on his way up to the reservoirs. So that made three when some other London sites are still to record their first. There was not much else with a couple of Sand Martins over East Warwick and ten more over Lockwood later, a Snipe briefly on the outside of the island on East Warwick before returning to the invisible scrape (perhaps that is something the LWT could tackle) in the middle, and a pair of Goldeneye still on West Warwick.
A look at the list on the right hand side of the blog shows that Wheatear is our 99th bird of the year, It underlines how well the patch is doing as last year's Wheatear, at the slightly earlier date, was only our 83rd species. It took until April 16 to reach 99 when Jamie found his Hoopoe with Swift next day the centenary bird. With Willow Warblers already recorded in a couple of places in the capital and a couple of patchers off this week, the race is now on to hit 100 before the end of March. We are counting on you.....