Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Pied Flycatchers et al...

Yesterday morning the local birding WhatsApp group was buzzing with reports of Pied and Spotted Flycatchers. Pied Fly has never quite been a guaranteed bird each year, so I was eager to get out and have a sniff around. I had to wait until the afternoon to do so. And the afternoon was hot. I mean HOT! Absolutely scorching, with not a breath of wind. I headed for my little spot at Burton Bradstock and was slightly amazed to find a Pied Fly almost straight away. Or, should I say, at least one. More likely there were two, but I couldn't prove it. The only other bird of note was a Lesser Whitethroat, though 7 lovely Wheatears were flitting around the fields.

I must have lost about two litres in sweat, but the urge to carry on was strong, so I took my shrivelled carcass to West Bexington and made it walk all the way to East Bexington. By the time I got back to the car I'd added another Pied Fly, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, a Redstart (my first of the year), 4 more Wheatears, 2 Great Northern Divers together, 6 Common Scoter, 5 Willow Warblers, another Lesser Whitethroat and a couple of Blackcaps. Also a Clouded Yellow and an Eggar moth of some kind.

All in all, a really nice tally by my standards. By now I was seriously crispy, so went home to rehydrate.

Although I managed a few dreadful Pied Flycatcher record shots at Burton Bradstock, none were remotely sharp. I flushed the Redstart when I found it, so it gave me a five-second glare from a few yards away, then promptly vanished. So, have this hare...



The West Bex Pied Fly was far more accommodating, presenting me with at least 60% of its body surface, if not 65...

West Bex Pied Flycatcher. To be fair, most views were like this or worse.

After yesterday's relative riches, I was out early today, with high hopes. Burton Bradstock now held a very pleasing three Pied Flycatchers, plus 11 Wheatears. But absolutely nothing else. So I tried Cogden, adding another 8 Wheatears and a couple of Whinchats before breakfast. Slightly more success with the snappery today...

The walls which serve as field boundaries at Burton Bradstock are quite possibly the most photogenic Wheatear perches I have yet seen...



The Pied Flycatchers initially gave photo-opportunities like this...

Still, at least the focus managed to find it somehow

 Finally...!



On a slightly different note, some good butterfly news. Last year I posted this photo...

Long-tailed Blue at Axmouth


Prior to August 26th, 2019 I had never seen a Long-tailed Blue. The discovery of a small number at Axmouth enabled me, Sandra, and umpteen others to enjoy great views of this pretty little gem. The site was publicised and therefore got a bit hammered, but as far as I know there were no major issues. However, one or two visitors may have had intentions other than mere observation and a few snaps. Nets were seen. Though the law protects some species, many butterflies can legally be collected, including Long-tailed Blue. It seems unthinkable that anyone could stoop so low as to consider catching and killing such a rare butterfly, but there it is, Victorians are among us and the risk is real. Well, the site has already produced again this year, and the news broadcast. Realistically, after their popularity in 2019, anyone with evil intent would no doubt have been making plans for 2020 anyway. So perhaps the best way to ensure the butterflies remain unmolested is to publicise the site widely. A steady stream of visitors might then serve as an unofficial wardening service, and discourage would-be collectors from even thinking about it...

Possibly.

2 comments:

  1. More great shots.

    On the pied flycatchers, I saw pictures of juvenile spotted and pied in someone's garden the other day and it was miles from a pied habitat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks very much Dave. One thing I love about migration - particularly in autumn when so many young birds are around - is the potential for birds to turn up almost anywhere. When I lived in Rickmansworth I remember a birding friend having a Pied Fly turn up in his garden, and I dread to think how far away the nearest breeding birds were...

      Delete