Without planning it, Saturday turned into a five hour marathon of birding at Cranford Park and a return to Lake Farm. I blame Sue and, to a lesser extent Wendy, for keeping me out later than planned but I have to confess it was well worth it.
My day began at Cranford Park where the young Hobbys were quite mobile and still noisy. One adult could be seen consistently hunting over the open park, catching insects in its talons and eating on the wing. The juveniles were active in the woodland area but were not yet exposing themselves to the open skies for any length of time. We may have them here for a little longer fingers crossed.
The woodland floor was strewn with various types of fungi. The recent combination of damp and warm weather has encouraged rapid growth around the woodland.
Dragonflies and butterflies were also in good number, both this Green -veined White and Comma were seen around the wood-circle as Wendy and I patiently waited for Hobby activity and the arrival of Sue and Jasper the birding dog.
Love was also in the air for these two Green-veined Whites.
It was just as well there was plenty of non-bird activity at Cranford as I didn’t manage a single photo of any birdlife. It didn’t help that there were two tractors in the woods and the open park cutting the grass and generally making a racket. On a Saturday of all days!
There were plenty of birds around though with our Hobbys, a Grey Heron, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Robin, Mistle Thrush, Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tits all making their presence known. Only the Crows and Magpies seemed happy to have the tractors scything down the grass as they rummaged around the cuttings for an easy meal.
A distinct lull descended mid-afternoon and Sue in particular was keen to visit Lake Farm on the slim chance that there may have been some passage birds loitering there. Wendy and I were reluctant to visit, due to the carving apart of Lake Farm for a new school. Sue was insistent though and kept talking about Whinchats, Wheatears and Redstarts, tempting us with each passing species….Lake Farm it was then!
We had only been at Lake Farm for around 10 minutes when we saw a Kestrel hovering over the park. Half an hour later and with the exception of four or five Linnets that was pretty much all we had seen. A depressed Wendy, cynical Tony and still upbeat Sue decided to make one last walk around the far edge of the park before calling it a day. A Green Woodpecker put in an appearance and then flitting in and out at the bottom of a Hawthorn bush was a Redstart! Sue saw it, lost it, saw it again. The I saw it too. Frantic camera work but too late, it was gone.
We didn’t have to wait long for it to re-appear, albeit at a distance and with its back mostly facing us, but we all managed a record shot or two. Hope restored at Lake Farm at last!
The best moment for me came at the end though with this young female Kestrel. Utterly unfazed by our presence, all three of us and Jasper the dog, got within six feet of this cool customer for some cracking pictures.
Despite it being a day without too much bird action, to conclude with a Redstart and a close encounter with a Kestrel made it very satisfying.
Having broken my Lake Farm exile on Saturday, I popped over for a few hours on Sunday morning too. The bold Kestrel was there again, being mobbed by aggressive Magpies. I was however really pleased to get this Tree Pipit topping one of the Hawthorns, a first for me.
Moving in and out of the overgrown areas of Lake Farm were the occasional Whitethroat, Robin and Linnets. This female Linnet was happy to hang around just long enough to get a quick record shot in.
With several House Martins, two Cormorant, a Reed Bunting, Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, Grey Heron and two Weasels also seen, it may be time to pay a few more visits to Lake Farm in the coming weeks. Hopefully Sue’s prediction of Wheatear may still come true!