Saturday, 18 April 2015

The Barley Birds are back again

There is an inevitable re-occurring theme with this blog, other than the obvious general birding and ringing one that is, and that is my fascination with the Common Nightingale. Every April I search traditional territories within my patch and try to establish how many there are. It can be very frustrating at times, as the secretive nature of the species means that I will hear them, but often obtain just fleeting glimpses. Over the years I have learnt the patience is the key, and that is exactly what made this mornings visit to Botley Wood a successful one. 

I arrived on site early, just before sunrise, and began my usual circuit. The Ravens were again very obvious, but I am barely even giving them a second glance at the moment. Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and a few scattered Willow Warblers were still the most notable of the summer migrants, until I walked up the first ride and heard a Nightingale, my first of the year. The bird was fairly close to the path, but was on the opposite side of the vegetation to me so I crept through a small gap and waited. Although they often sit in the open, Nightingales will perch close to a branch and usually behind it if they have seen you, this makes them very difficult to pick out in spite of their loud song. My first male was in full song and very close but initially I couldn't see it. I stood and patiently waited and eventually picked out some movement in a willow tree. The bird flicked left and perched up right in front of me. At this point, the bird was in the open but I was in vegetation and so getting a clear shot was a challenge. I was eventually able to manoeuvre myself so I could get a couple of shots, while the bird continued to sing....just brilliant! This bird was an unringed male, that may be the same bird as last year as I failed to catch the bird on this territory last year.

Male Nightingale
Male Nightingale
Male Nightingale
Male Nightingale

I continued around my usual circuit and could hear two more birds, one was only giving occasional bursts of song, but the other was in full song. I decided to look for that one and was again rewarded with some great views of a singing male, this one also unringed. Whilst watching this bird a second bird was skulking in the dense undergrowth close to me. This bird was not singing but uttering the typical 'wheeling' and 'croaking' calls, so may well be a female.

Male Nightingale

I pressed on with my circuit and picked up the male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker again, Great Spots and Greens were also very vocal, th good weather was clearly encouraging them to call. As I continued it was evident that the Chiffs and Blackcaps were busy nest building. A Chiffchaff was grabbing spiders web, much the the spider's annoyance I should image, although its was better than being eaten.

Chiffchaff nest building

A male Blackcap was singing its scratchy sub-song whilst the female was busy nest building in a small patch of bramble. While I was watching it a second male was paying the female a bit of attention, this went unnoticed by the singing male for a minute or so, but he was quick to see off the intruder once he did.

Male Blackcap

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