Thursday 2 April 2015

A Stonechat Calls & A Greenshank Hops

Pitstone Hill & College Lake: It’s got to be at least 2 weeks since I posted any ropey video footage. You’re in for a real treat this Easter with not just one, not even two but three gloriously average (some might even say poor) short film clips. At least the sun was shining and the rippling images induced by strong gusts of wind weren’t too frequent.

First up is the pair of Stonechats (Saxicola rubicola) on Pitstone Hill. I half expected them to have gone by today so it was a lovely surprise to find them still fluttering and calling. The first film is a montage of clips featuring both birds and, in particular, the male and a few of his calls. The second film (which is also included in the first) is a very short clip of just the male perched and calling, producing his stones-being-bashed-together noise. The sound quality leaves a lot to be desired but is hopefully good enough.

Next up, I’ve saved the best (oh, ok, I mean worst) till last. Leave them wanting more (and better?!)! Having watched a flock of about 15 brilliant Yellowhammers fly up from the crop field and land in a tree, I bumped into Lee. We exchanged bird news and he let me know there was a Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) over at College Lake.

Comfortably settled in at the Octagon hide, I found what I thought was the Greenshank. I’d expected it to be moving and feeding and thus easy to spot, and had stupidly left the scope behind. Anyway, I whiled away a very pleasant hour with a family who was also there enjoying the birds. Between us we decided the wader next to the “dead male Shoveler” (which turned out not to be dead) was indeed the Greenshank. It spent most of its time roosting but did occasionally rouse itself to preen and hop about on one leg. In fact, I never saw its second leg in the whole hour I was there. If ever it wanted to move, it hopped. And, at one stage, it even seemed to be making a half hearted attempt at feeding on one leg, hopping in the water and simultaneously scanning the shallows for food. At approx 65 metres distance the footage is pretty awful but I think you can just about tell it's a Greenshank. I’ve removed the audio because it was principally bird-hide-banter about Coots killing each other (aka mating), male Shovelers rising from the dead (mmm... a bird-themed Easter message perhaps!?!) and the mouth-watering prospect of homemade hot cross buns. That reminds me, I must get to M&S for my annual indulgence of toffee fudge & belgian chocolate hot cross buns. Golly, I hope they still sell them!

Happy Easter!

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