Rooftop Raptors & Butterflies

As spring lapses into summer and the days get longer and warmer, the hectic bird activity slows down and some birders shift their attention to the plentiful insects that the good weather encourages out. However, the bird action does not cease completely and we have been very lucky over the last four years in having our summer days livened up with the activities of some local Kestrels. Last year we had a family of five using the rooftops of our development for training. Please see last year’s entry for the low down.

So it was with some delight that a thundery, stormy Saturday saw the return of two Kestrels. One bird in particular was quite visible despite the wet conditions. Unlike last year there was no cacophony of calls between adults and juveniles and it was by sheer chance that I spotted it perched at the far end of the flats.

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The rest of Saturday saw this intrepid explorer visiting all the rooftops in my eyeline. Occasionally dropping down to hunt on the flat surfaces and among the pipes.

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Sunday was dry and bright so I spent a few hours at Cranford Park where butterflies were plentiful both in number and species.

IMG_8969a Red Admiral

IMG_8978a Comma

IMG_8994a Small Tortoiseshell

IMG_9001a Meadow Brown

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There was also enough bird activity to make it interesting. Juvenile and adult Robin are still in good numbers and the flocks of Long-tailed Tits are still busy. Despite the bird song being significantly reduced now, there were still Chiffchaff, Song Thrush and Blackcap making noise, Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker consistently call throughout the woodland and I distinctly heard the “zip-zip” call of Spotted Flycatcher for a brief moment.

Especially visible were the Whitethroats. The last of the summer visitors to arrive, juveniles have now fledged and can be seen in the dense greenery of the Headland in particular.

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Wrens are also in healthy numbers, there are a number of spots around the park where you can almost guarantee at least a fleeting glance of these small but loud birds.

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Sunday also saw one Red Kite over the park and several views of one of the resident Kestrels hovering over the open park. It was whilst going through my photos that I also realised that I had inadvertently captured one of the Kestrels perched high. I was about to discard the picture as the Magpie was so out of focus then noticed the Kestrel nonchalantly perched just behind.

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Despite the “off season” for birding just about underway, the two and a half hours spent there on Sunday morning were pretty interesting. It was also good to meet up with Sue and Jasper and also Kathy and Ian May, all of us enjoying the sights and sounds Cranford has to offer.

Sunday afternoon saw the return of a single Kestrel on the flats at home. Following the same pattern as Saturday but in far better weather, it was most obliging for the camera.

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I am hoping that the one or two Kestrels seen this year are not all we will have as it suggests a less successful brood than last year. Kestrels numbers are becoming a cause for concern, with year on year reduction in numbers. We have been very lucky to have these charismatic birds in plain view at Cranford Park and outside our own windows. Let’s hope that a combination of adaptability to an urban environment and the protection of vital habitats like Cranford Park means they will be able to maintain a presence for a long time to come.

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