John was going to Potteric Carr to see the Iberian Chiffchaff, and asked if I wanted to come along, so we set off at 8am to escape the screaming Saturday hordes. We arrived just before it opened, but weren't the 1st through the turnstiles. We guessed where St Catherine's Field might be from the inadequate official map, and luckily, proved correct. We could hear it clearly from quite a distance away, despite the proximity of the thunderous motorway traffic. Its song was quite a revelation. It approximates as: "Chiff-chiff-chiff-whip-whip-whip" & sometimes a little twitter. We spent at least 10 mins with the bird before a big party of twitchers started turning up. They had been ahead of us but probably went to St. Catherine's Copse by mistake, whilst we made our way unerringly to St. Catherine's Field. The bird wasn't anything special to look at, if anything it was in a tatty condition, but it certainly sounded very different. Earlier, John found a buck Roe Deer trapped behind fencing, attempting to get away from us, so we left it in peace, and it hopefully found somewhere to graze away from humans. On the way to Catherine's Field the best bird was probably a male Bullfinch. We went looking for the Kingfishers in Piper Marsh, but there was no apparent activity at the nest site - perhaps the young have recently fledged. There was very little at Willow Pool hide apart from 2 Canada Geese goslings, and at least 5 baby Moorhens. We went to a hide on the other side of Willow Pool, where we heard Reed Warblers and saw plenty of Four-Spotted Chasers, and some smaller damselflies. We seemed to be the youngest people on the reserve until a trendy pair in their twenties turned up & quickly spotted the Heron. Outside the hide we had brief views of a beautifully singing Garden Warbler, and heard Great Spotted Woodpeckers near the bridge over Mother Drain. John was happy to get his 300+ UK bird, and I was satisfied to have heard its weird song, & to check on the reserve before next week's class. The Chiffchaff can't really compete with last week's Purple Heron, but the class should be very interested in hearing its very different song if the bird stays around!
First 4 pics are of the Iberian Chiffchaff followed by the Four-Spotted Chaser & then the temporarily trapped Roe Deer.