Monday 15 April 2013

More migrants arrive

Barn Owl
A visit before my first day back at college this morning really paid dividends and continued yesterday's buzz. I got to the farm at 6.00am and the first bird I saw was a male Wheatear on the barns behind the farmhouse, then the Barn Owl hunting over Watchpoint field - it offered perhaps the best views I've ever had of it and was a real surprise seeing as it hasn't been seen hunting or at roost since March 26th. I then started to read on Twitter of falls of Wheatears and other migrants in London and various other sites across the country. I wondered whether there might be things to find but wasn't expecting much as usually good hauls elsewhere are indicative of slow days at Canons rather than bird-filled ones. I made my way down Canons Lane after reading these messages and was stopped in my tracks by two Tree Pipits on the wires by the lane! This is a regular autumn migrant but hard in the spring and they're usually fly-overs; I've only ever had any kind of settled view at the patch on two occasions so this was a real score.

Tree Pipit, bird 1
Tree Pipit, bird 2

Going to the raised south end of Infront George Field and scanning towards Broadfield I picked up three Wheatears, possibly including the bird I saw earlier, and although it didn't compare with counts from Wormwood Scrubs or Wanstead Flats my hopes were raised even further. Slangs, a bit of a migrant funnel, seemed a good plan of action so I walked down there, revealing a Willow Warbler and a couple of Chiffchaffs. I slowly walked back up when some 'different' movement caught my eye to the right, my instincts were pretty strong as to what it was before I'd seen its tail or got my bins on it, and it was indeed a sought-after male Common Redstart - gorgeous. As soon as I'd confirmed it two dog walkers came along, and disturbed it but it soon showed again and allowed photographs to be taken.

Male Redstart, bird 1
Male Redstart, bird 2

Ian came over and saw the Common Redstart along with two other birders. We then walked off together towards Pages Acre, getting brilliant views of the two Tree Pipits on the way - one even sang! Phylloscopus warblers popped out at regular intervals along the hedgerows and wooded sections and were mostly Willow Warblers, with a smaller handful of Chiffchaffs. The first two Common Whitethroats popped up, too, making for my third year-tick of the day! At Pages Acre, I commented that the horse paddock there was a likely Redstart spot, and then a second male Common Redstart flew past and performed well, an even more pristine individual than the first! I had to get to college to left Ian to continue the search and headed back to the car content with an exciting morning's birding. Another birder reported a female Redstart in the same place as the original male.