Friday, 8 October 2010

Starting in the Paddock

For several hours this morning I couldn't see the end of the garden from my study, so I didn't think it likely that there would be much point in a walk round Bockhill. Then, just after midday, the fog lifted and the sun started to make a few inroads into the gloom.

At Bockhill farm there were still quite a few Chiffchaffs in the wood and along the Droveway. There is an old concrete drainage tank in the trees and, when there has been sufficient rain, it becomes a magnate for birds coming down to drink. I sat quietly in the trees and watched at least 20 Chiffchaffs come through, dropping down for a drink or a wash and brush up. in about 20 minutes. I'm sure than many, or even most, of the birds in the area must use this facility. It is a pity that it is so shaded that even at ISO1600 them maximum speed I could get was 1/125 sec at f5.6. There are unlikely to be any good photos from waiting there, but I though this Chiffchaff coming down to drink had a certain charm.

When I reached Hope point the air was still hazy, although the overhead sun was warm enough to for me to discard my jumper. This is a spot the bird photo, there's no prize for finding it though.

The other day I'd remarked to Jack that Kestrels seemed to be rather scarce along the cliff this autumn, but today I saw four separate birds hunting between the monument and Kingsdown Leas, so it would seem that I'd just not been looking hard enough.

This one, hunting along Kingsdown Leas, made several determined dives into the grass below, but while I was watching I didn't see it come up with anything.

From the Leas I could see Kingsdown Beach in the haze, but it was clear enough to see Deal Pier.

I met Jack on the way back to the Monument and he told me that there was a juvenile male Redstart in the Paddock, and we walked back to the area where it was still flitting in and out of a hawthorn.
As I sat watching the Redstart a few of the many Goldfinches that were moving north, (Up) settled in the hedge above, and then moved on.

A rather scruffy first year female Blackbird sat up and scolded me for intruding before it moved hedges.

I managed to shuffle closer to the area where the Redstart was quivering it's tail, wishing that I'd brought a plastic bag to sit one because the grass was very wet.

Even though the bum of my jeans was very wet my hardship (joke!) was rewarded with some good views of the Redstart. I took loads of pictures in the hope that some would have the almost constantly moving tail sharp. I always thought that Grey Wagtails were difficult, but compared to this bird they are almost idle.

A I sat watching and photographing this beautiful bird I was suddenly surprised by hot breath on the back of my neck. I'd been so engrossed in what I was doing I hadn't noticed "Lucky" a dog that is a regular in the paddock, sneak up behind me. We're old friends so there was no problem, but he did make me jump a bit!