Sunday, 21 August 2016

Autumn is coming

It’s been a month since I last posted; the weekends have seen me away in the Lake District, visiting parents in Shrewsbury or on holiday in London. Trips away from the patch always turn up encounters I couldn’t expect at home… I’ve seen slow-worms and lizards at Roudsea Wood, green woodpeckers over Ambleside, gatekeeper butterflies on the banks of the Severn and ring-necked parakeets in Hyde Park.

I usually claw to be back in Thrintoft for fear of missing something, but the slow summer months have muffled that calling. So with little expectation I took to the patch this weekend to see what was about.

A very brief window in the rain on Saturday morning allowed me to jog around the short river loop. Most of the crops have been cut to stubble making passage much easier, for which I was grateful. The cattle in warbler corner have kept the sward short and the area looks highly attractive for passage birds (well I think so – I’ve no idea what a passing passerine thinks).

This thought was vindicated when I spotted a female redstart dropping from under the hawthorns to the ground to snatch a morsel before returning back under the tree and out of sight. I was afforded a couple more views before the rain forced me on. As I skirted the fields, sheltering from the downpour, I was aware that the elder were dripping in birds: goldfinch, greenfinch, yellowhammer and most of all the commoner warblers, presumably fattening up before flying South.

While the early bird may catch the worm, the early worm must see the bird, or so I convinced myself as I headed out into the warm morning sun at 7am this-morning. I was right… two chats were working their way along the track that cuts high field in two. They were very jumpy and appeared to be in juvenile plumage, so I wasn’t sure whether they were stone or whinchat. A blown up brown blob on the back of the camera confirmed whinchat, my first ever patch record!

I let Nick know and while I waited for him, checked warbler corner for the redstart. It was dead in comparison with Saturday. It’s notable the difference a day and a change in weather can make. Back on high field I spotted Nick making his way towards me and scanning the horizon spotted another familiar shape… osprey! What a cracking morning. The bird was mobbed by gulls and a sparrowhawk while it appeared to hover over the river. I like to believe it was the same bird that passed through in March and the same bird that hung around for two months last Autumn.

A stroll around the remainder of the patch revealed no further migrants, though I did clock this small copper, another year first and my 20th butterfly species. Butterflies were numerous today and far and away the commonest species was wall; a fantastic sight to see so many of these nationally declining brown butterflies. Painted lady, peacock, small, large and green-veined white were also recorded.

PS. I'm no writer, so try and compensate for this with good images. Today was a failure on both counts!

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