As I left for work this morning, I heard the song of my second BLACKCAP of spring, singing from a bush in one of the large gardens, they have arrived early on my patch this year. Of the Ten years of recording, this is the fourth record of a singing Blackcap in March, the other 3 years were the early years of '02, '03, and '04, the mean arrival date is now 31st March.
This afternoon, I first paid a visit to the lake area, mainly to try and find some Butterflies, and check up on the COOTS. Despite some warm sunny spells, not a single Butterfly was found, but the Coots were both found. Also noted, on the main lake, was one of the pairs of CANADA GEESE they have made their nest on the small island, and the female was sitting on it :-)
Whilst in the Scrubby Woods, failing to locate butterflies, I could hear a small amount of spring song, predominantly from CHIFFCHAFFS, but SONGTHRUSH, BLACKBIRD, ROBIN, DUNNOCK, WREN and GOLDCREST also featured, but the one I enjoyed most was the MARSH TIT song, very pretty, if a bit repetitive! I didn't stay long, as it was the scarce Migrant species I was after, and they are most likely to occur over on the fields.
I walked up the Pub Field and scanned the newly turned soil, but couldn't locate a Wheatear, it's not looking like I'll get one in March this year. The usual gang of Corvids were seen, along with half a dozen PIED WAGTAILS and a PHEASANT, not quite what I wanted :-)
Next stop was Migrant Alley, always the best place for a scarce migrant, but a walk of the pasture and paddocks came up negative, not helped by the SPARROWHAWK circling over the place! I spent an hour at my skywatching seat, where I continued to scan the fence lines and posts, as well as the sky, but it proved very disappointing today, just WOODPIGEONS, CHAFFINCH, Corvids, and Pied wagtails were seen. I decided enough was enough, and headed for home, but at the last moment I had a change of heart and went for a look around the Tree Nursery.
Here I almost immediately heard the faint call of what I thought was a Redstart, I tracked the call down, but couldn't find the bird, although the call, now louder, convinced me more it was a Redstart. I stopped and scanned along the edge of a row of Laurels, and Wow!! There it was, a stunning male REDSTART (79,66) , what a blindin' bird!! Easily the best looking species to grace my patch ( I always say that!)
Redstarts on my patch are seen less than annually, and all but one sighting, in April 2006, have involved Autumn birds, all being the duller female or immature types, this sighting was my first ever spring plumaged male, cracking bird :-) I had just a 5 second view, before it flew into cover, and I couldn't locate it thereafter, despite spending another 40 minutes looking for it, a shame, as it would of made a great photo.
The Redstart pushes the Year list to 79, and the months list to 66, the 3rd best March out of ten now :-) Below is the Sparrowhawk, seen over Migrant alley, the only photo I took today