Sunday, 14 August 2011

I wish they'd stay for Summer.

Autumn migration is well and truly under way. While it is always possible that the hoards of Whitethroats and Lesser Whitethroats flicking through the bushes are of local origin, this can't be true of the masses of Willow Warblers around today. Sadly this iconic symbol of summer is very difficult to find in east Kent as a summer visitor now.

I walked from home to Bockhill farm via the gun site, that hides the remains of Big Bruce. The trees and bushes were alive with the whoo-eet calls of Willow Warblers. At first all I could see was the occasional head of one poking into the day light as it fed in the shadowy interiors of the bushes.

Standing still and waiting for only a couple of minutes was long enough to have loads of views as they worked there way round the site.

Although similar to Chiffchaffs, that do remain fairly plentiful in summer, Willow Warbler calls are distinctively disyllabic and there are subtle differences in their plumages. Perhaps the most obvious is the much longer wings of the Willow Warbler, seen here stretching well down the tail coverts. I really wish that some stayed with us in this area during the summer months, their song is to me the epitome of summer.

Now that the corn is being cut and bales of straw are standing at intervals in the stubble fields it is worth checking the tops of the bales. From a distance it could see what looked like a Northern Wheatear perched up on one a hundred yards or so away. Mindful of all the more exciting alternatives that could be masquerading as the common "Wheatear" I carefully worked my way closer to reveal it's true identity, which of course turned out to be a Northern Wheatear. One day perhaps it will turn out to be one of it's rarer congeners, but in the mean time I'll keep checking the Wheatears!

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