I couldn’t decide today between a trip to Brandon Marsh and a visit with my spotting scope to the Country Park. I opted for the Country Park on account of a) it being closer so I didn’t have to get the car out and b) it being a weekday so it was less likely to be packed with dog walkers. In the end it proved a good choice.
I thought I would start by sitting on the dam and setting my scope up to watch the terns which have moved back in for the Summer. I love watching these birds, they are so graceful and languid as they hunt along looking for fish. I also caught glimpses through my scope of swallows and house martins darting across the water at high speed. The true harbingers of Summer (although I am not sure we have had a spring yet really) also turned up today as I got my first sighting this year of swifts (duly recorded on the Nature’s Calendar website). These birds know no fear, zooming along the dam and up the bank past the cuckoo flowers and startling those who happened to be walking past.
Whilst watching these I noticed something fluttering near the trees and turned my scope away from the water to get a wonderful view of a kestrel, hovering above the bank obviously watching its dinner. The colours in the sunlight (which made a briefer appearance than the kestrel) were so rich. However, on today’s visit to the Country Park all of these ornithological wonders were eclipsed. Whilst watching the terns fishing above the water I noticed something else, of a similar size darting across – Hobbies! (Falco Subbuteo) This is the first time I have seen them at the Country Park, I thought there were a pair there, but as I watched them zooming around, turning to show the russet red underbelly, sometimes almost stalling, yellow legs out, obviously catching some flying insect, I realised that there were actually four of them. According to the RSPB website they will also chase martins and swallows, but these seemed oblivious to the predators. I watched enthralled as they darted and chased across the water, even the rain didn’t manage to stop play. Eventually I had to leave them and come home (there was only so long I could sit in rain sodden trousers) but I will be back to see if they stay for the Summer or are just passing through.