12 April, 2012

Redstarts and Wheatears

I was straight back out on the hunt for more migrants this morning, with reports of a Common Redstart in Richmond Park. Like the Ring Ouzel, these birds travel through the south during April, on their way to breeding grounds further North. From what I heard, this particular bird appeared to be ranging quite widely throughout the northern side of the Park, no doubt on a quick pit stop before continuing through London, and hopes were not high for it still being present the next morning.

I arrived this morning, with no idea where to start looking. After a few hours of searching, even flushing a Red-legged Partridge at one point, it became apparent that the Redstart had moved on, and attention turned to the residents...

My first ever photograph of a Stock Dove...

Large numbers of Greenfinch were nesting in the gorse by Holly Lodge...


More often heard than seen, this territorial Wren popped up for a brief moment, before seeing me and dropping back into the ferns...


A brilliant male Wheatear was present in the paddocks, and gave great views when it perched on the wooden fence in between feeding...





The paler bird was soon joined by a much duller, darker male, which left me scratching my head. I've got absolutely no experience on seperating the various subspecies of Northern Wheatear, but I'm fairly sure these two males are of two different races. I took this record shot of the pair together for comparison... any Wheatear fanatics care to share the identity of these two fellas?


Pleased with the shots, I headed back to the car park, completely oblivious to the fact that I'd missed out on the very bird I came to the Park to see.

By now you've probably guessed what happens next, but the odds of it happening seemed smaller than the chance of the Red-legged Partridge that I flushed earlier, turning up in the garden Pear tree when I got home.

I decided to head back the long way through Pembroke Lodge, which often produces some photogenic Robins and Blackbirds, used to the leftovers of family picnics and parties. I stopped off by some blossoming trees to pack away the camera, with on coming storm clouds, but changed my mind when this popped up further down the slope...


... the Redstart! Albeit a distant Redstart. The bird was extremely skittish, and like yesterday's sighting, it didn't like to stay still, ranging along the slope. I eventually managed to track it down to a small clump of brambles towards the west of the hill, where it finally showed its true colours, literally...


Out of all the places it could have been at that moment in time, such as half way to Wales, or even on the other side of the Park, the male Redstart just happened to be along the path that I happened to be taking on the way back to the car. Coincidence? Luck? Or fate? ... most probably the first two.

6 comments:

Andy said...

Hi Bill,

Nice shots, I should head out to Richmond park more often!

Sean Foote said...

Hi Bill,

Ideally, we need to see the front of the Wheatears in order to try and identify a Greenland (more peachy wash on breast). But, I suspect that the bird on the right is just a normal male, but just not quite so advanced with its breeding plumage. Sean.

P.S. look at your e-mails!

kirstallcreatures said...

Lovely photos of the Redstart amongst the brambles and the Wheatear on the fence.

Christian said...

Beautiful looking series Bill.

Bill D said...

Andy- So should I , its certainly got potential!

Sean- Thanks for the help, after doing a bit more research, the bird is clearly as well marked as Greenland. Email sent.

Kirstallcreatures- Many thanks for the kind comments

Christian- Cheers, not quite up to the standard of some of those on your blog ;-)

Bill D said...

*is clearly NOT as well marked, that should read!