Wednesday, 9 April 2014


It was a morning of flashbacks. As I headed out into the fields to the east of the village I was reminded of an identical morning three years before, April 7th 2011. On that memorable morning there was a movement in the hedgerow by the private pond and bang - a male Redstart appeared. This morning, on virtually the same day of the year, with the same warm early morning sun shining down, there was a movement in the same hedgerow. A flash of red... and a Robin appears. Lightening did not strike twice. 

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

# 153 Redstart 9th April Cuddesdon

That does not happen often!

72 species for the year. 104 bird species (+2 escaped species) for the area since 2008. 

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