Sunday, 19 July 2015

Sunday July 19

A good day's birding at last. It began somewhat inauspiciously as cloud thickened, and several showers whipped in. The breeze remained a brisk southerly.

There were plenty of tits and a few warblers in the copse by Netherstead Farm, including a sub-singing Willow Warbler.

The first piece of good fortune occurred when I reached the pool. I edged along, trying not to disturb the Green Sandpipers, when I noticed a larger wader with them. A Greenshank. This is the first I have seen here since 2012, although I should point out that Dave and I probably had a fly-over bird last August, and we heard, but failed to see, one in 2013.

It showed rather well too. I sent a text to Dave, he had cried off due to a late night party, and continued my usual route. A Sand Martin flew over the pool several times, and an immature Cormorant perched on the dead tree by the pool before flying off. Apart from the fifth Green Sandpiper of the visit, the flashes contained 41 Greylag Geese and nine Canadas. The pool behind the hedge produced the next surprise as a female Tufted Duck was present with six ducklings.

Continuing along the hedge, the main feature seemed to be a big flock of 120 Goldfinches in the thistle field, plus a few Whitethroats, and Blue Tits. However, all that was to change when I stop dead, thinking I had heard a different song above the twittering of the Goldfinches. A few seconds later there was no doubt about it, "wet my lips, wet my lips" the song of a Quail. As it happened, I had learned yesterday that there were two singing just up the road, at Middle Spernal. So the question is, is this a part of a mini-influx, or has one of the Middle Spernal birds simply relocated? Whatever it's origin, this is only the second year I have recorded the species here, the last being in 2010.

It called several more times before I rang Dave. He said he would come over, so I hung around until he arrived. During that time, not a peep was heard from the Quail, and I soon turned my attention to the butterflies which were appearing now that the sun was out. The highlight was the presence of at least one Essex Skipper.

A male Essex Skipper
This is yet another insect species which has extended its range over the last 20 years, and is now fairly widespread in the same habitat that contains the closely similar Small Skipper.

Dave arrived and after visiting the Greenshank we made what proved to be a futile attempt to hear (let alone see) the Quail. I left Dave to continue looking, and made my way back to my car. However the day wasn't finished with me yet, and as I walked past the dragonfly pools, a plaintive "hweet" call sounded suspiciously Redstarty, and eventually I was able to confirm my identification. Another call to Dave, and after a few minutes he was with me, and able to point out there were actually two Redstarts in the hedge, both juveniles.

A very distant Redstart
So after three weeks of very little to report, today felt very special.

Finally, pleased to report my Dad is back at his home and on the mend. Meanwhile, at my home, conversation was interrupted by the sudden appearance of a Hummingbird Hawk Moth on the lavender.

Hummingbird Hawk blur (middle right)
Shocking photo, but a garden tick. Quite a day.

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