Sunday, 3 June 2012

Red Stars

Male Redstart [at this location 3 years ago]
 Female Redstart
 Spotted Flycatcher

Yesterday afternoon was the first of the daytime wildlife events organised to coincide with Robert Fuller’s summer exhibition.  Four people met in the gallery from where we shared cars, and another 2 were waiting for us at the destination.  I also brought along my nephew who was often able to spot things quickly for the attendees.   On the journey we nearly slaughtered 8 Red-legged Partridges and an escaped lamb, but we managed to successfully avoid adding blood stains to the road.  Along the way there was a singing Meadow Pipit which I actually managed to spot on the return trip.  
From the car park we could hear a Yellowhammer singing just across the road, and this bird flew right over us and landed in the hedgerow we were shortly to walk past.  Here were also Goldfinches around the car park, but the usual Linnets were absent.  We plunged down the valley, and from the scrub there were distant Blackcaps and Willow warblers, but a more vibrant Song Thrush whilst another was visible on top of the Hawthorns.  One thing I noticed straight away was how noisy it is on weekends when there are a lot more non-birdwatchers in the area.  There was one family in particular of about 8 daughters, only half of whom were dressed in the compulsory pink who dawdled & made a hell of a lot of noise, and made my task that bit more difficult.  It was noticeable that Ben (12) did most of the complaining at the behaviour of the public, and came across as an old man!  
In the valley bottom I could hear a male redstart singing.  We went through a handgate an almost immediately I spotted a bird going into a cavity where Redstarts had nested 2 or 3 years ago.  I couldn’t believe they were using the same dirty old hole, but they were.  Both parents were going in and out regularly, so it was clear that their young were being fed.  We remained there for about half an hour, and although the Redstart’s movements at first were too quick for some of the viewers eventually both genders sat perched long enough looking for most people to get decent views.  This was a more colourful female than many, as a definite peachy blush could be discerned on her breast.  A Spotted Flycatcher also appeared briefly, and some Bullfinches flew over, and there were some Goldfinches perched on one of the dead Hawthorns.  
When we left the Redstarts and began to walk along the old railway line I could hear the very distinctive ‘chup’ of Crossbills, so these must have been in the stand of conifers which had been behind us when we were watching the Redstarts.  Along the early part of this walk we heard both a Chiffchaff and a Willow Warbler, and the latter was even spotted with its wings outstretched.  We also heard a Blackcap, but this could only be glimpsed among the thick hedgerow, although it was seen in flight, as it flew from one side to the other.  A Mayfly was clinging to a nettle, and when I looked at the photo there were actually 2 mayflies there.  There were singing Chaffinches, a Wren and another Chiffchaff near the quarry.  Meanwhile we had Swifts, House Martins and Swallows flying over us at various times.  
On the return to the gallery there were almost as many red-legged Partridges dicing with death, but the only new birds seen were a pair of Linnets flew up as we drove back past a quarry.

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