Thursday, 8 June 2017

Part 2 - Damselflies, Woodcock & Nightjar

Our walk at Fiddleford Mill is one we enjoy in spring as it gives a variety of wildlife, from the car park we started with Swallows and Pheasant, quickly followed by House Sparrow and Robin.   As we walked through to the Mill and along by the Mill Pond we had a quick look at the Archimedes Screw hydro generator and here we found a good number of Banded demoiselle they seemed to be everywhere.  By the weir we had four Grey Wagtails, three juveniles and an adult female, a very nice sight.  Another Damsel this time a Blue-tailed Damselfly, then I heard a Garden Warbler and quickly located it singing out in the open on a nearby thorn bush, all had good views before it crossed the river to another song post.   Walking towards the old railway bridge as we passed the rushbeds we watched a number of Reed Warbler, a nest was found and we watched as the pair flew in and added nesting material to the not quite complete nest.  We stopped on the old railway bridge for some time and checked off a number of species including our only Sedge Warbler.
Banded Demoiselle - Fiddleford Mill © Nick Hull
Walking along the trail we added Red Admiral, Speckled Wood and a Holly Blue butterflies, also added Goldcrest and Chiffchaff to our list.  David then picked up two circling raptors which turned out to be a pair of Sparrowhawks.  We watched them for a while and the female crossed the field to our left and put the wind up a number of Jackdaws which were feeding out in the field.  Buzzard was next, in fact by the time we finished we had recorded three pairs.  We continued recording the regular species on our way back to the car park.  We walked a little way down the road and looked out over the fields to the north.  David did it again picking out a Hobby which gave pretty good views catching flying insects over the field and we finished with another raptor, a Kestrel, which brought a nice walk to an end.

Bringing you right up to date we had our annual evening Nightjar and Woodcock walk which turned out to be one of the best ever.  We walked a slightly different route then usual and checked off the usual woodland species Song Thrush, Jay, Goldcrest and Chiffchaff in the wood.  As we came out on to the heath, Dartford Warbler was heard and later seen and a Hobby performed well though a little distant.  Stonechat and another Dartford sat up on the gorse, also a stunning male Linnet.  A Mistle Thrush stood on the path and a Willow Warbler was singing close by.

We made our way down to the area of the heath where Jackie and I hoped we would find our target species. Though it was still light on our way we watched a Serotine bat was hunting along the forest edge.  Arriving at where we thought we would be able to get good views based on previous knowledge of walks past, it was now just a case of patience and keeping our eyes peeled and ears attuned.  I picked up a quick view of a bird disappearing behind tree out to our right I was sure it was a Woodcock.  Keeping my eye half on the area and the other looking for Nightjar, I heard the 'Tsip' then 'grunt grunt' of a Woodcock which flew pretty much over us the first of possibly four that circled or flew over us roding.  
Woodcock roding
Jackie then asked the time it was 21:20hrs she commits "they should be singing soon", I answer "after half past" I had no sooner said this and the first Nightjar started it evening 'Churr' and it was close.  Then another and within a few minutes we had at least five males singing around us. We heard wing clapping and quipping, a bird in flight, Jackie tried the old trick with the white hanky and from nowhere a male flew right over us.  Over the next quarter of an hour we were treated to two different pairs flying over and around us absolute magic.  After having our fill, we started to return to our cars when Jackie sat churring on a bare branch of a tree and we were able to get good scope views.  We eventually dragged ourselves back to the cars finding a couple of other churring birds and seeing the Serotine Bat again.  What a absolutely fantastic night.
Churring Nightjar 

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