Saturday, 30 August 2014

Hobbys at Cranford Park and Redstarts at Lake Farm

It's been a looonnnng day.
It started with me bumping into Scally at the log circle at Cranford Park early this morning. He had successfully photographed three of the Hobbys on a branch eating a Blue Tit.
I went off for a wander hoping to spot a Whinchat or Wheatear, but the tractors were out cutting the grass, so any birds around were being spooked.
Not long after, I bumped into Tony. We went in separate directions maintaining contact and updates by text. Still no Whinchats although I did find a young Kestrel at the back of the stable blocks.
I also saw a male Sparrowhawk swoop down behind a wall, and minutes later emerge grasping a very dead Blackbird. No photos though, it all happened a bit too quickly.
Out on the newly mown grass I found 12 Mistle Thrushes. Couldn't get them all in one shot, so here's four of them instead.

and a solo one...
By the river I had a fleeting glimpse of a Kingfisher. Also found this variety of Shield Bug..
and a Blue-tailed Damsel....

Back at the log circle one of the juvenile Hobbys landed in front of me. It was hard trying to get a decent photo with all the branches, and this sorry picture was the best I could do..
Later on Tony and I located another juvenile deeper in the woods. It was continuously calling, and we couldn't work out why, until we went back to the log circle and saw four low flying soaring Buzzards. The adult Hobby was also flying around them. Once the Buzzards went over, the juvenile Hobby stopped calling.
There were several butterflies around today.
Speckled Wood...

and this mating pair of Green-veined Whites...
Sue and  Jasper the bird-dog joined us, and we all had a wander around the park but there wasn't much to see. We were sitting under the ancient Sweet Chestnut watching one of the Hobbys flying around, when Roger Morton popped over to say hello. We were all comparing notes when a Kingfisher came from the river, over the grassland, went passed us and disappeared in to Cranford Woods. None of us had ever seen the Kingfisher take that route before.
Roger mentioned that he and Dave Morris had seen Whinchats at Lake Farm the previous week, so Sue, Tony, Jasper and I decided to have a gander over there.
Lake Farm used to be very special to me, but after Peter Naylor passed away and the council managed to cut through red tape to allow the new school to be built, I've lost interest in the site. Most of my spare time is now spent at Cranford Park.
Well we walked around and for the first half an hour we saw nothing except for a few Linnets.
Then something hopped down on to a path in front of us, and just as fast went back in to some scrubby bushes. A quick focus with our bins, and Sue confirmed it was a Common Redstart. A Female. After hanging around a little longer, we spotted a second bird, but our joy was to be short lived. A family with two kids on bikes came past us with the kids stopping right in front of the shrubs where we had seen the Redstarts.
We hung around a little longer but they didn't re-appear.
And we didn't find any Whinchats.
But we did find something else........

A rather beautiful and very tolerant young female Kestrel. She let us walk up to six feet away from her. Now you can all understand why the Kestrel is my favourite bird. Isn't she just stunning....

Of course last but not least, a photo of Jasper the bird-dog....

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