A class day's birding

A class day's birding ~ 1st May 2016 ~ 

Yesterday I had a brilliant day's birding which involved me seeing 1 totally new bird as well as numerous year and patch year ticks.

The day started with a walk around my patch where I saw my first Whitethroat of the year. It was perched up on some bramble belting out some song.

Once home I received a text from another local birder alerting me to a Ring Ouzel on a reserve about 20 minutes away, so, after a bit of deliberating I decided to head to the reserve and check it out. As soon as I got out the car I looked up and saw my first Swifts & House Martins of the year, always a great sight!

Then as we were heading round to where the Ring Ouzel had been seen, a stunning Whinchat alerted us to its presence by flying out of a hedge to pick some insects out of the air. Whinchats are stunning birds - their thick, cream supercilium, peachy breast and cryptic feathering on their back make them one of my favourite passerines. If I'm honest I would've been happy to spend the whole day watching & photographing the Whinchat, but my dad insisted that we keep walking and try to re-find the Ring Ouzel.
Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra)
We then headed round the corner and sure enough there it was! The Ouzel was perched up on a spoil heap and calling profusely. It then flew off towards the hedge that the Whinchat had been in, so we got ourselves into a better position and waited for it to return. After about 5 minutes it returned to the spoil heap and continued feeding. It wasn't close enough for good photos, but that didn't matter since this was my first ever Ring Ouzel & I got some great views through my bins.
Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus)
After about 20 minutes the Ouzel flew off again and so I decided to go back to the Whinchat hedge and see if the Whinchat was still there. I didn't get very far as I got distracted from some Pied Wagtails that were feeding on a little muddy puddle on the path, so I lay down and took photos of them (they were too close to focus on at times). I stayed there until I'd filled up my memory card, which was only about 50 photos or so since I'd forgotten to empty it before we went out. I headed back to my parents who had my coat and swapped memory cards for one with a bit of space on and headed back to try and find the Whinchat.
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
The Whinchat was still feeding in the hedgerow so I spent a little more time photographing it. Unfortunately by this time the light had changed and so was in a really awkward place which was a shame. Once I was satisfied with my views of the Whinchat I headed back round to my parents to see if the Ring Ouzel had returned. It had and we spent a further 20 minutes or so observing it feeding on and around the spoil heap before deciding to head home.
Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra)
Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus)
It has to be said that although the best bits didn't happen on patch, it was one of the best day's birding I've had so far this year. I'm still yet to hear a Cuckoo this year, so hopefully it won't be too long before they're back on patch. I'm also eagerly anticipating the return of the Nightjars and can't wait to spend a few summer's evenings up on the heath listening to them churring and watching them displaying...not much beats that.

Anyway, this is likely to be my last post for a while as I am busy revising for my exams which begin in a couple of weeks.

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