24th March

A truly beautiful day - which was a tad ironic given it was also the first day of the nationwide lockdown - saw brilliant blue skies and a drop in the hitherto ever-present wind. Once again, however, it was not a great day for migrating birds with grounded migrants in particular pretty thinly spread; 2 White Wagtails were as good as it got at the Bill. Three species of hirundine was a bonus though with the first House Martin of the year (at Blacknor) accompanied by six Swallows and three Sand Martin; a decent passage of Meadow Pipits and Linnets was also evident  along the West Cliffs . The sea was relatively quiet, with 5 Red-throated Divers and 4 Shoveler easily the pick of a lean return from the Bill.

Yesterday we mentioned appreciating the little things and in the same breath should have dwelt on the capture for ringing of the year's first Greenfinch at the Obs. It still sometimes seems almost inconceivable that we've reached the point where the trapping of a Greenfinch should be deemed noteworthy but it's a sad reflection on the demise of what was once the Obs garden's commonest breeding bird © Martin Cade:

We've posted versions of the graph below on previous blogs but the latest update shows there's been no upturn in the fortunes of a bird whose population both locally and nationally has been decimated by the emergence of the respiratory disease, trichomonosis. It's safe to say that the totals shown for the first 15 or so years of ringing activity at the Obs can be largely ignored: ringing effort in those days wasn't what it is now and we understand that Greenfinches were so numerous in that era that, to save money, many of those trapped weren't even ringed! Amongst the ups and downs in the 'modern era' we've never managed to glean from the literature a satisfactory explanation for the noticeable dip in numbers during the 1980s - was this a nation-wide event or something that occurred only at a local level?