Spotted Flycatcher (Russell F Spencer)
I have been neglecting my local patch in a major way recently. Everytime the alarm goes off at silly-o-clock I just can't raise my eyelids let alone my head off the pillow. But last Sunday I dragged myself out of bed, albiet at 6.30 a tad late by my standards and hot-footed it to The Scrubs.
When I arrived it was one of those mornings when you could feel the autumnal magic. There was a soft westerly wind and it was slightly cloudy. There was little to see at first. The usual common suspects headlined by a flyover male Pied Wagtail and a couple of Collared Doves (a scarce bird here). By the time I had crossed the playing fields heading east to sift through the trees in the Southern Copse, I noticed that there was a bit activity with a fine Lesser Whitethroat popping out into the open.
The grassland back in the western end was a hive of activity. At least 20 Common Whitethroats were rummaging through the Blackthorn occasionally joined by upwards of 5 Lesser Whitethroats. As I was enjoying the scene, a 1st winter male Common Redstart suddenly popped up out of nowhere. It was our earliest returning autumn bird ever. I was well pleased. My pleasure was multiplied when I noticed a immature Whinchat sitting on top of a nearby shrub.
On the final part of my circuit I walked along the embankment which is shrouded in shrubs, gorse and some unsightly Hogweed. Whilst watching the parade of warblers interspersed with Linnets, Greenfinches and juvenile Starlings, 2 Spotted Flycatchers suddenly flew into view. A scarce migrant here, I was really made up now!
I must go birding more often!