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Monday, August 13, 2012

13th August

Bushy Park


While marking trees that had contained OPM nests ready for tagging. I heard some commotion above Warren Plantation and could make out a falcon heading roughly in my direction. I ran (walked quickly) to a slightly clearing and was able to get this shot, though the light was poor it will do.

Two-barred or Common Crossbill with two wing-bars.

Having been pleased with that sighting I then heard the call of what sounded like a Crossbill at 9.05am. I couldn’t see it and wasn’t exactly sure where it was. I then picked it up as it flew diagonally away from me. It was definitely a crossbill, a relatively stubby bird, blunt red-headed and breasted bird, short-tailed. Now the surprise feature, it had two prominent wing-bars. I only had the shortest of time viewing it and by the time I had raised my camera it disappeared over the tree tops.

Other news

Willow Warbler: 10 birds.

Chiffchaff: 6 birds.

Blackcap: 10 birds.

Common Whitethroat: 4 birds



Morg and Rose said...

Buff Tip caterpillar seen crawling rapidly across the path next to the Bird Sanctuary at 1pm. Also a number of Common Blue and Peacock Butterflies seen around the Holford House site and the flower meadow at the Old Golf School.

birdman_euston said...
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birdman_euston said...

14 Aug:

Light shower(s) overnight, low cloud at dawn lifting after 06:00, then muggy with high cloud and light S breeze like yesterday.

Hobby 1 (flew in from W at 06:30 and immediately stooped on a low-flying swift over Open Spaces, area 37 before heading S, eating breakfast on the wing).
This unforgettable moment started when I spotted three swifts 50m over my head, soon joined by two more. I barely had time to wonder where the two new ones had come from when they were followed in by the Hobby, which gained height on approach before choosing its victim. The most impressive thing about this aerial feat was how little energy the Hobby expended: it simply used gravity to boost its speed advantage, caught up to one of the fastest birds in the world a few twists and turns later, and exited the Park stage right within two minutes of its arrival, trailing swift feathers in its wake. Truly awe-inspiring... I turned back to find the remaining swifts had rapidly gained height to form a scream of eight 150-200m up - no doubt a survival strategy of 'safety in numbers' at sufficient height to hedge against another 'death by stoop'.

Gadwall 1 (drake in breeding plumage off area 2 at 06:20; first of the 'autumn').

Swift 9 (then 8).

House Martin 2.

Chiffchaff 6+ (three among the roses in SW corner of Queen Mary's Gardens, area 19 at 07:10; singles calling in areas 10, 19 and 40).

Willow Warbler 2 (with the Chiffchaffs in QM Gardens).

birdman_euston said...
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birdman_euston said...

Weeks later, I was walking past the spot above which the hobby attacked its prey when a reason why the swift didn't seem to react to the stoop in time suddenly occurred to me. Even though the hobby had initially closed on the scream from the west, it climbed right past before suddenly turning and stooping from the east 'out of the morning sun', momentarily blinding its victim and causing a fatal delay before the swift commenced evasive action. Whether the hobby found the best angle of attack by accident, from experience or on instinct, such fine margins spell the difference between success and failure, life and death.