I never claim to be some form of Chris Packham when it comes to bird calls, but I do know a Woodpecker when I hear it.
And no, not because of the characteristic 'tapping'! Green Woodpeckers have a distinctive call. I've heard them a few times around our house, but rarely see them.
This time though, the call seemed louder than usual. I picked up my camera (which to be fair, is usually at arms reach anyway), and headed outside the front of our house.
We have a playing field out the front which is bordered by trees where I assume this Woodpecker usually sits, not today though!
He (or she?!) was sitting on the ground feeding for worms (I assume). The beak was covered in mud and it was probably only 20ft from me/my front door. They obviously are a bit camera shy so flew up into the trees once I'd got a couple of shots off, probably the best ones I've managed of a Green Woodpecker, but here is hoping for more opportunities!
Back in our front room (it feels a bit like SpringWatch HQ sometimes), I was watching some junk on TV, sat in a position where I can keep an eye on the bird feeder - just in case anything unusual turns up.
Then all of a sudden out of the corner of my eye I spot something which fitted that bill perfectly! A juvenile Sparrowhawk with (sadly) prey. It had just plucked one of our house Sparrows off our feeder.
My camera (as always) was by my side, sadly though on this occasion I was just too slow, it obviously caught some movement from behind the patio door and took off. In desperation I just pointed and clicked*. Whilst not the best (far from it), it does demonstrate the action! (My Dad managed a far better action shot of a SparrowHawk and a starling last year).
*This is not a recognised or recommended photographic technique!
Enough of the action at home though, I shot off to Lavell's Lake for a quick check to see whats out and about.... as it happens on that day, not much.
I headed back to my car and thought the car park seems unusually full? at which point 3 more cars arrived in quick succession (a bit too quick if I'm honest!!), the chaps jumped out and shot off across to the middle of the car park field.
Well, curiosity got the better of me, so I took myself & the sigmonster over to see what's going on. I was expecting a bird of prey or something like that, but I was a bit far from the truth.
Luckily I knew one of the chaps who was watching so I asked him what we were looking at... "A Redstart, first of the season". Ok then, it's something I'm sure I've not seen before, so I'll give it a go!!
As it happens there were actually 2 of them, one a juvenile, identified because of the lack of colour on the tips of the wings?! I don't ever expect to know that, but some people do!... but there was also a full adult flitting out of the bushes and back.
The Redstart seems to have set up a regular base in the same hawthorn, so has been become a bit of a local celebrity, a somewhat controversial celebrity as some photographers have been pushing their luck with distances and getting too close (meaning the bird never comes out at all).
In the meanwhile I'll continue back at the hide to see what turns up... still hoping for another Kingfisher opportunity! On this occasion there was nothing about, I was *just* about to pack up (as is always the way) and I spotted the characteristic wing shape of a Peregrine... but this time was much smaller. I watched this bird circle above the lake. I used my lens to identify it, and it seems I managed to spot my first Hobby!
Really happy with this as I've done a lot of chasing this summer trying to see one with no luck (despite being fairly numerous). Anyway I watched it circle over the far end of the lake before disappearing.
Great to tick off my virtual list, but definitely one I want to get better shots off in the future - I am conscious I had spare 'zoom' available, but not enough time to use it!
I was hoping that the above Hobby was looking for some food... their main food is dragonflies, which they catch and eat on the wing (in the air). There is no shortage of Dragonflies at the lake which does make it an ideal place to feed.
This one I think is some form of Darner Dragonfly. One of many hovering in front of the hide.