Thursday, 24 April 2014

Open Wide

I set off half an hour later today for the second and final of 2 Nightingale visits; because setting off at 7am is trickier when a 14 year-old is coming along.  We set off in fairly nice weather, but as we crawled through Lincolnshire on their slow roads we passed through some thick mist.  Luckily, it wasn't quite so bad at our destination, but it was still overcast.  In the early morning recce the comparative quiet along the Nightingales compared with yesterday was immediately obvious.  In fact Ben & I failed to get a decent glimpse of any individuals, and the song was rather sparse.

Nightingale - At one time this looked like this would be the best view we'd have all morning
Aileen's Best Nightingale from Yesterday (c) 2014 Aileen Urquhart
The actual class started much quieter too, with fewer birds singing, and we had to walk quite a long way before hearing a decent bird.  This was sat in the far side of a hawthorn bush overlooking the railway line.  However, it was very hard to see until it flew over the track and set up somewhere opposite to us.  Ben managed to spot it & tried to point it out to everyone, but it was very low down, and only a handful of participants were able to see over the hedge in front of us to pick it up.  The view we had of it can be seen in the above photo.  the rich brown colour was particularly noticeable amongst the dull vegetation.  John, an "interloper from Friday morning", probably obtained the best view of it, as he went to where the hedge was very low & peered over there at it.
Nightingale - note white eye-ring and pale gape
We heard another few birds, but views weren't any better.  However, we did obtain sightings of a Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler, a Chiffchaff and a Willow Warbler.  We gave up on the Nightingales and did a circuit of Coot Lake.  Here, we had an even better view of a Garden Warbler, and a male Bullfinch.  We arrived back in plenty of time, so went back the way we had originally come.   

We had nearly gone all the way back to the start when we reached an open area in the Oak Woodland.  A few of us watched a Nightingale, which could just be glimpsed singing close to the ground, but which was impossible to photograph through the thick vegetation.  However, the other section of the group were watching what was reported to be a warbler.  When our bird had moved on we followed Angela's advice & joined the rest of the group in the open area.  It wasn't a warbler, but was a very confiding male Nightingale who sang unconcernedly for perhaps 20 minutes in total, while a dozen people gazed at him in admiration.  He changed his position a couple of time, which enabled photographs to be taken of him from almost every angle, apart from the rear.  I think this is probably the best and most prolonged view of a Nightingale we've ever had since the very first class in 2004.
Nightingale - note rufous back plumage 
 A French Delicacy - Nightingale Tongue
 The Opera Diva - performing his aria alfresco
 Brief Moment of Repose
 Looking to the Left
 Looking Down its Throat
 Garden Warbler
 Willow Warbler
Everyone was perfectly satisfied with their morning viewing, but Ben had to pull a bird of prey out of the bag - just as we were leaving the site!  It was a Peregrine soaring almost like a Sparrowhawk, and was a fitting end to a very worthwhile morning.  Same again, next year, any one? 

No comments: