At least eight of these handsome chaps (or, more likely chappesses, but there is no visible difference) dotted the Flashes this afternoon. In the bird world it’s autumn already and these individuals are returning from their nesting grounds, leaving their mates, generally the male, to raise the young. You see? Us blokes doing all the hard graft again. The distribution map in my Collins Bird Guide shows the sandpiper’s nearest breeding range as Norway or Sweden, maybe Finland too, so these ladies have flown over the North Sea on their journey back to Africa.
Also recently in from breeding closer to home, on our own upland moors, were a dozen curlews, of which several were identifiably young. Upton’s own little ringed plovers seemed to have one chick – an improvement on last year, if so. Only one avocet remained and one returning shoveler nearly escaped detection among the mallards by being in eclipse plumage.
Far sadder was a lone starling. Have matters come to such a low ebb for starlings that they can no longer find huge gangs in which to roam? It seems almost impossible that these birds could become endangered. A couple of colourful linnets completed the list of birds outside those normally resident.
So, which will be the next southbound migrants?