Saturday, 12 September 2009

Red Start, Red Finish

A glorious morning, full of September promise.. and Virgin balloons, this one skimming the chimmney pot:
Out by the Farmhouse Pond the Little Grebes are still present, as are 100+ hirundines, these House Martins and Swallows forming autumn parties as they prepare to head south for the winter:
Fewer Meadow Pipits about today, but the recent ploughing is still pulling in hundreds of Gulls into the River Thame valley, although nothing more interesting than Lesser Black-backed and Black-headed Gulls today.
16 Lapwing and big mixed flocks of Jackdaws and Carrion Crows joined the feeding frenzy, while this Red Kite performed nicely for my camera:
Having checked The Fences I head east through the fields towards the river, hearing singing Chiffchaff en route. Perhaps because it is September and the skies are filled with migrants that could come out of the blue, or perhaps it is just because I had breakfast before coming out, but either way I feel compelled to check this area and a tingle of expectation at the thought of doing so.
     I am heading south along the sunlit side of tall hedgerow, when I flush a slim fast moving passerine that dives back into the hedgerow a further 10 metres along. Surely that bird had a red tail? I move along the hedgerow and flush it again. Once again it flicks down the hedgerow, but this time I am sure about the tail: it is rich, chestnut red. A third time, but on this occasion it perches in an exposed spot for a moment:
A superb male Redstart and the highlight of the autumn so far. However, unlike the previous weekend's Wheatears this migrant is mobile and elusive, and though I get a couple of brief views of it perched in low branches the picture above is the only record shot.  Redstart is officially a scarce passage migrant in Oxfordshire and this is only the second one I have seen (my first being a juvenile in my central Oxford garden in mid-September 2005), so I am really please with this find.  The hedgerows by the set aside are also full of birds: 15+ Yellowhammers, similar numbers of Linnets, a couple of Reed Buntings and finally 2 seperate Garden Warblers, feeeding on elderberries. Really good birding today, migration: don't you just love it?

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