The arrival of spring is gaining momentum. Reports from all over the UK speak of falls of migrants. Sand Martins, Wheatears and Chiffchaffs still feature most, but others like Blackcaps and Willow Warblers are creeping in too.
At Sker Point there’s a nip in the air, but freshness too. A brisk breeze propels clouds steadily across the sky; the sea is deep blue one minute, grey the next. Although it’s chilly, there’s genuine warmth in the sun. Sker Point itself is no more than a flat grassy knoll and the scene of a famous shipwreck over half a century ago; it’s deserted. The calls of unseen Oystercatchers ride the wind and winter plumage Knots rest on the rocky shore, silvery in the sunlight. Far-off on the beach to the north, Sanderlings dodge the waves.
The old fields behind the Point are alive with Golden Plovers and Lapwings in winter and a few remain. In splendid summer plumage now, silent Golden Plovers stand alert in the damp grass and the displaying Lapwings move me like no other wader can. A male Wheatear perches proud on a rock as if to proclaim ownership, but he’ll probably have gone north by the morning. I hear disturbing news of this smart trans-Saharan migrant. The BTO reports that Wales has lost at least a quarter of its breeding Wheatears in the last 15 years and there have been significant reductions in Scotland too. This first wave will be followed by the larger Greenland race in a month’s time, these true long distance travelers migrating a full 5,000 miles.
The Great House at Sker, beyond the fields dates to the 11th century and is said to be haunted; saved and recently restored it dominates the flatlands. Ancient limestone walls surrounding the old outbuildings providing perfect perches for more Wheatears and a smart Black Redstart with shimmering tail.