Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Black redstart, Hope Carr

On days when the Blyth's reed warbler doesn't show there's still plenty to keep me entertained at Hope Carr. Star of the supporting cast over this past week has been a 1st winter / female black redstart which showed well but briefly in the sewage works compound and on the perimeter fence on one afternoon and again the following morning. Chances are it's still around but once it disappears to feed on the ground amongst the various machinery and buildings it's a very difficult bird to spot.

Other highlights have included woodcock, little egret, two peregrines, green sandpiper, up to four chiffchaffs, 40 shoveler, 80 teal, six goosander and a variety of woodland birds including willow tits and bullfinches. In total I've now recorded what I consider to be an impressive 73 bird species at the site in the past two weeks.

The Blyth's reed warbler is a very frustrating bird. At times it shows unbelievably well at point blank range, but then it can go missing for three or four days at a time. I've now managed to see it well on four different days, but to put that into perspective, I've been to the site every day since 22nd January (16 days) and spent about 65 hours on site, during which time I've probably watched the bird for a combined total of 1 hour. Of those 16 days, there have been 10 days when the bird was not seen at all by anybody and two other days when it was only seen for seconds. It's definitely a fair weather bird, when the sun shines and the temperature rises a bit it can show well, but if the weather isn't so good it becomes elusive to the point of invisible. It obviously must feed even during poor weather, it can't not feed for 10 out of 16 days, but I suggest that during wind / rain / sleet /snow and freezing conditions it's deep in the bramble picking off spider egg sacs or moth pupa, whereas in warm sunshine it's tempted to the tops of the bramble in pursuit of flying insects as it was yesterday (Monday). This bird has the potential to be around for another month and as we get closer to spring we should get pleasanter, warmer days and with them plenty of potential for it to start showing a little better.

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