Sunday, 14 August 2011

Hallelujah Saxicola

I am awakened at 4.04am by three simultaneous noises: my daughter crying, the repetitive beats of an illegal rave and the calls of Herring Gulls overhead. The first two do not disturb me, I have plenty of experience of both. The third was more intriguing. Why would the Farmoor gull roost be emptying over Cuddesdon? It could only mean one thing: harvest was over and ploughing had begun. I head out later in the morning and capture the unusual sight of both weetabix and shredded wheat growing side by side:
Other fields are still full of wheat and Roe Deer:
While other non-bird wildlife is as easy as ever to photograph - a nice Speckled Wood here:
But there is a birdy feel to things this morning: a Whitethroat in a neighbours garden is unusual, at least 3 Yellow Wagtails are zipping around and the local falcons are all on the wing: 1 Hobby and 3 Kestrels. Calling Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap make me wonder if there are some early Autumn migrants in, so I extend my walk to cover the set-aside and the sewage farm. Both will prove to be surprising, in very different ways: First, the set-aside has been ploughed in. Now this may be some new kind of land management that I have not seen in the area for the last 3 years, but it does feel ominous. It will be interesting to see if this area still exists after the rest of the fields gets turned over in the autumn.
Secondly, as I make my way towards the sewage farm, past the burnt out refrigerator and three piece suit that someone has kindly dumped here and set fire to...
... a bird lands on the path. Very calmly I say to myself "That's a Whinchat". And indeed it is:
It flits up to perch on the hedge, then flies out across the stubble and is gone, just like a proper migrant should, leaving me with two execrable images:
Nevertheless, a new species for Cuddesdon! Number 103 for the area and 90 for the year - equalling the 2009 total and only 1 behind last years record 91 species. Whinchat has long been on the radar as a potential species out here, but if the next one could be a fine spring male you won't find me complaining.

And finally - can anybody help me identify this moth that turned up yesterday evening? It's the object to the right of my thumb if that helps:

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