As promised in my last Patchwork Challenge update we were back out looking for the suspected Whitethroat on Tuesday evening. It didn’t take long to confirm that the snatch of song we’d heard did indeed belong to the bird in question as we picked up a much more sustained outburst on Gopa Hill. A little bit of searching soon turned up a visual confirmation and we enjoyed good views as it hunted insects amongst a couple of small trees. Only once did it fully come out into the open and fortunately I was ready to capture the moment for prosperity. Certainly not an image that matches the quality of those in my last post but one that holds far more significance for it being a local patch bird.
Heading up towards Bryn-bach-Common a trio of Swallows were nice to see as were three noisy Linnets. Keeping them company was what seemed like a supporting cast of hundreds with Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs singing across the entire length and breadth of the valley. Such abundance sits somewhat at odds with the general lack of other migrants around but I’m happy to say that seems to be changing following events this weekend. More on that in future posts however. For now let’s stick to the Common where there were at least three Wheatears along the main ‘track’. If memory recalls this is the largest single count I have ever had up here and despite them all being flighty I was pleased to get this shot.
Back in the garden (of which I have shared scandalously little of late) I’m happy to report that, despite the normal drop off in numbers following winter, we still have all our regulars putting in the hours. Of these the Long-tailed Tits and Goldfinches remain my favourite but it has been most pleasing to have both a male and female Bullfinch making almost daily visits. Even better is that they seem to be increasingly tolerant of our presence making our viewing of these distinctive birds that much easier.
On Wednesday a strong breeze had picked up making it distinctly chilly out on patch. This didn’t seem to have affected the Whitethroat however which was still in fine voice in almost the exact same location as before. As best I could tell there is no sign of a female as of yet but the male is clearly on territory in an area which has seen breeding success in the past. Fingers crossed therefore for another good season ahead.
When we headed out on Thursday evening I did a conscious run-down of which species we’d need to see to be in with a shout of beating last year’s score. The missing hirundines were obvious inclusions but after that we really are in the lap of the Gods with either brand new or less than annual ticks required. The fact that we are already into this kind of territory shows just what a stellar start to the year we’ve had, due in no small part I’m sure to how many visits we’ve managed to make. It was pretty exciting therefore to hear the sound of a drumming Great-spotted Woodpecker from somewhere across the valley, a bird firmly in the ‘less than annual’ category. It seems we can do no wrong of late. Of course all this focus on scores and competitions should never detract from the simple pleasure of being out and about and it was in that spirit that we spent a happy few minutes watching this Robin in full song.
Surrounded by new leaf growth it really did feel like winter was nothing more than a distant memory, a feeling emphasised by an increase in Swallow numbers to four above the Common.
2015: 59 / 2014: 64