But the first Willow Warbler of the year began singing:
Joining the Skylarks in the more open areas:
I began heading back only to notice another movement in the hedgerow... I lifted my binoculars, only to see another Robin. Then another movement behind it... and lightning struck twice: a cracking male Redstart. It looked over it's shoulder, a blaze of grey, black and orange, then flew to the back of the hedgerow. I waited. I waited some more. I scanned the hedgerow. I waited some more. I walked slowly along the length of the hedgerow. Nothing. A beautiful two second view and it was never seen again. But it looked exactly like this, a photo of the 2011 bird:
Close up, such as this bird I photographed in Scotland many years ago, they are real stunners:
This is the first record of Redstart in Oxfordshire this year and the 4th Redstart I have found around Cuddesdon since 2008. There are two spring records of males, 7th April 2011 and 9th April 2014; and two autumn records, a male on 12th September 2009 and a female/juvenile on 27th September 2012. Redstart was regarded as a scarce passage migrant in Oxfordshire, but the appearance of newly fledged young on Otmoor in recent summers suggests that they could be breeding locally, with Wytham Woods being a prime possible site. It is also nice to see Cuddesdon add to the county year list on the Oxon Bird Log:
OXON COUNTY YEAR LIST 2014
72 species for the year. 104 bird species (+2 escaped species) for the area since 2008.