afternoon arrived a little too soon and I was in danger of not seeing a bird all day, and when compared to the previous days stomp around Yorkshire this would have been sacriledge!! So when news of a Red-footed Falcon at Willington turned up on the internet I have to admit I nearly jumped. Then I thought "leave it a while, there's no point racing down there if it's onyl a fly-over". And sure enough an hour later there was the dreaded 'no sign' message on Birdguides. So I got on with updating my blog, and bird and moth records. That killed 2 hours, and I checked the internet again. Bugger! The earlier no sign message had been followed with at least four more positive mesages. I packed the bins and shot down the A38 and fast as I was allowed.
On arrival at Willington one very determined gentleman overtook me whilst pointing out a Lesser Whitethroat to me on song, so I decided to keep up with him. As I got down towards the end of the lane more and more people appeared to be coming away...mutterings of "crap viewpoint" and "not seen for an hour" were reaching my ears! Within minutes of standing at Platform 5 I could understand their frustrations. It appeared the bird was feeding low down over the other side of the river and the chance of seeing it through the willows at Platform 5 were very slim. A few birders had chosen to try down the other side of the Trent, and soon a text came through from one of the gathered birders to say that the bird had been found over there. My determined gentleman was one of the first off the mark, with me close behind him. We traipsed down the opposite side of the Trent (although by this time he'd outpaced me, and I thought I walked very fast!?). A few others had chosen to give this route a try and around 15 of us were stood overlooking the fields beyond the wood. After half an hour or so I picked up a bird coming up off the river, floating low over the fields and it landed in a bare hawthorn. Red-footed Falcon! Epic! Until my determined birder just pipped me to the post! He'd spotted the same bird and got his voice heard first!! The following hour was taken up watching the falcon hunt low over the fields, around the willows along the river and mostly perched in a small hawthorn hedge. My second ever RFF, and amazingly both in Derbyshire and even more amazingly only around 6km apart and even, even more amazingly only (4 years and) 10 days apart!
I also finally managed to pick out a Garden Warbler whilst watching for the falcon!
Tuesday 5th June -
An evening wander around Cannock Chase to try and pick up the specialities (yeah, I know now that this wasnt the best time to visit!). I parked at the Punchbowl and walked up to the Stepping Stones and then into the Sherbrook Valley. It was the first time I've visited this part of the Chase and I can see, despite the large amount of rain that was falling this evening, how attractive it would be to birds such as Pied Flycatcher etc. The walk was wet but very pleasurable with Cuckoo calling in Sherbrook and eventually showing over my head. A Green Woodpecker seemed to call constantly around me, and eventually gave itself up - my first for the year would you believe (see previous posts as to my frustration with this species). The only other decent bird was a Redstart that didn't seem to mind the rain. The rain was pretty persistant until around 745pm when it lifted and seemed to immediately put the Tree Pipits into song. I picked this one up in a side path along which a number of oak trees were growing. Apologies for the terribly gloomy video but it gives you an idea of the conditions.
Then there it was, slight at first, right on the edge of my hearing, but after I'd heard it I focussed on it more and it became much more positive. That fast trilling endin in a rapid flourish? A Wood Warbler, and no doubt. Just a short distance away it trilled a few more time allowig me to pinpoint its location. Alas it would not show! So I vow to return and pin down both this warbler and the Pied Flys that are supposed to be in this area. It is a great little spot some amazing spots such as along the stream at the Stepping Stones picnic area (right)
and a quick walk up one of the side paths gives views over the heathland such as this (left). Probably not the best photos in the world, and definitely not going to make it into the "Cannock Chase Sunny Day Visitor's Guide" but was gobsmacked at how wild this pace felt, despite being completely managed.
As is usual I came away with some photos of the magnificent fungus species found along my walks which continue to thwart my id skills. If anyone can put a nam to these faces then I would be most appreciative of your help.
Bird Yearlist - slowly edging up now at 161.