Having failed to find Redstarts around Beacon Hill last weekend, this Saturday I took my beloved for lunch at Heighley Gate and on to Beacon Hill in the hope that one week would have improved prospects of seeing our target. On reading other bloggers' visits to this area, it seems that we are not alone in missing out again.
It's amazing how few mature trees are showing significant leaf development. However, in spite of the absence of Redstarts, Beacon Hill had a reasonable variety of birds. Early afternoon isn't the best time to start birding, but there were plenty of Willows and Chiffs in song. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was busily hacking at a decaying tree, scattering moss and lichen in all directions. Blue and Great Tits were very busy and a few Coal Tits added to the frantic activity. No other warblers were heard. We sat for some time watching a Red Legged Partridge, as it waited for its partner to cross the road.
We then went to East Chevington, where we were pointed in the direction of the Purple Heron. It's a good job we had a good view of a Purple Heron at Saltholme a year or so ago, because the strong wind made my old telescope next to useless. The Heron was hunched in the reeds and didn't move for the ten minutes or so that we viewed it. It was clearly a Heron and darker than the common variety, but beyond that, just a purple haze.
On the positive side, the male special bird put in an appearance. A great display of how to glide elegantly in a howling gale. A Whitethroat was in full song along the roadside.
Five Avocets graced the north extension at Cresswell, but there were no Wagtails in evidence.
I think we are otherwise engaged next weekend, so it may be a while before I catch up with Redstarts this year.