Blue skies and an early start on the 12th April saw me heading back to Staines Moor. With spring migrants landing all over the country and some fresh spring weather to welcome them, I just had to explore a little more of the moor!
Bird noise was already lively as I parked the car; Goldfinches chasing each other between gardens and trees as part of their aerial courtship, Great Tits and Blue Tits and the occasional Starling were all very noisy and visible and the occasional Blackcap would fleetingly appear and disappear. As I made my way towards Stanwell Moor the wheezy call of a Greenfinch caught my ear.
This was soon followed by a very loud but characteristically elusive Cetti’s Warbler. The briefest of glimpses allowing me no time at all to get a picture. Equally as noisy was this ebullient Song Thrush.
Naturally, Chiffchaffs were also chirping their two-note call.
Stanwell Moor was home to at least two more Cetti’s Warbler, their sudden explosive chirrup of a call appearing from the deepest of green coverage with some regularity. As I entered Staines Moor, this Goldfinch posed atop a branch against the clear blue sky.
My attention was quickly diverted though to a Little Egret calmly feeding by the River Colne. A tentative approach however saw the white wader take to the sky and head towards the Staines end of the moor. Compensation came quickly though as two Wheatear came out into the open. With barely anyone else on the moor, these two summer visitors were very confiding.
From the fencepost to feeding on the ground.
The second Wheatear spent the whole time perched on the railing of the small bridge, I was even able to walk onto the opposite end for a face-to-beak look.
Unimpressed with me they eventually took the the sky to continue their spring passage. I too carried on with my exploration of the moor, following the path of the River Colne as it wound its way across the tussocks and grassland. Skylarks and Meadow Pipits were to be heard all around, the latter more vocal and visible and a number of noisy Jay were screeching away among the bare branches. I soon located where the skittish Little Egret had relocated to, possibly seeking safety in numbers with three or four fellow birds.
All four birds were very sensitive to any approach so all photos had to be taken at some distance. At one stage, a passing dog walker sent them all up where they circled and came back down where they started from.
A few Swallows were feeding off the surface of the pool where the Little Egrets were, my first hirundines of the spring.The rest of my circuit was largely uneventful, frustrated largely by invisible but audible Cettis Warblers.
I stopped off at Cranford Park on the way home; a little bit of patch guilt perhaps after spending the morning exploring a new location. I spent most of my brief visit there with Wendy Marks, who was enthusiastically showing me the very visible evidence of Muntjac and Roe deer activity at the park. Cranford usually has something to see though and my first Comma butterfly of the year posed nicely at the wood circle.
Pairs of Stock Dove and Green Woodpecker were seen and the appearance of a Buzzard overhead completed the sightings for the day.
All in all a good morning of birding. My first Wheatear and Swallow sightings of the spring at Staines Moor and some very healthy signs of imminent nesting at Cranford Park with the resident woodpeckers. Spring is warming up nicely!