Thursday, 15 December 2011

Black Redstart: Smart Find!

Yesterday I spent the day in the office, unfortunately no sign of the Peregrine putting the fear of god into the feral pigeons. One of my surveyors dropped me a message saying they'd just found a Great Grey Shrike on one of my sites - a great find. Unfortunately due to the weather forecast we had to move some surveys around for the end of the week which meant I got to drop a day in the office for some winter walkover surveying today.

The forecast for clear sky and sun had me looking forward to a day wandering about in the winter chill in the hope of connecting with something half decent, maybe even a shrike. When I opened the curtains and found a covering of snow and thick mist my expectations for the day soon decreased!

On arrival at the site there was no snow but it was blowing a cold cold wind with the occasional sleet shower but at least the sun was coming out. Unfortunately a flock of geese didn't contain any of the scarcer species that have been relatively abundant this winter.

As I walked around some scrub near a waterbody a few Dunnock and Robin were alarm-calling away (was there a Shrike about?) and then up popped another bird - typically it popped up straight into the sun, I lifted my bins but couldn't quite place it, was there a white patch in the wing? The bird made an unfamiliar clicking sound as it jumped higher into the tree, a flash of red - I wished it would move out of the sun, another 'click' and it flew into the top of a pine tree briefly before dropping down towards the waterbody. I jumped a couple of walls and refound the bird on the waters edge - Black Redstart, and a cracking male - a bit wind blown but a smart bird nevertheless. I'm thinking this is a juvenile male in ‘paradoxus plumage’ - (where it essentially looks similar to an adult male). I got on the radio to inform the other guys out on site and managed to get a record shot (phone-binned) - below. It was interesting seeing the more-typical Black Redstart after seeing the Eastern Black Redstart on Holy Island a couple of weeks back.

Black Redstart(Phone-binned)

Black Redstart(Phone-binned)

Black Redstart(Phone-binned)

Black Redstart(Phone-binned)

The Black Redstart showed well for 10 minutes but then I had to get on my way and continue my survey but it seemed pretty settled as there was plenty of insects about. A little altercation was noted with a Grey Wagtail but it gave as good as it got!

The rest of the survey was pretty uneventful, at least in my zone, however the other guys had some decent birds, highlights included Short-eared Owl, several hundred Common Snipe, 3+ Jack Snipe, Kingfisher and a Peregrine nailing a Common Snipe.

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