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  • Barbara Copperthwaite

Tales on the wing


Have you seen many Swifts this year? So far I’ve barely seen any, apart from the occasional one. There have been no flocks of swifts flying over me, shrieking joyfully as they all fly together so excited at the speed they are going and the exhilaration. I’m missing this seasonal sound and am hoping to hear it again soon, though I am still buoyed up over seeing and hearing the endangered cuckoo for the first time in years (as I shared with you in yesterday’s post).

I tried, unsuccessfully sadly, to take a picture of a Blackcap. I heard it right beside me and just managed to located it among in a gap among dense foliage in a tree…as it flew away. I didn’t even have time to get my camera up to my face. It moved on, but only to a tree on the other side of the path. I located it on a fairly low branch, got my camera focused this time, but didn’t have time to click the button before it moved away. And then it did it a third time to me, landing, giving its beautiful clear call, then moving on as soon as it had finished. But at least I managed to hear its song right beside me, pure and unadulterated, and even see its for a while. This shy, grey-bodied and black-capped bird visitor to our shores can be elusive so I always count myself lucky. To be honest I always count myself lucky to see anything!

I spied what I suspected was another Nuthatch nest the other day. Today I just managed to get some photographs of the Nuthatch there. It seems to be in the process of either building, or re-building the nest because I watched it dabbling more mud around the entrance to what is almost certainly a nesting site created originally by a Woodpecker (if you look closely at the photograph you can see a darker patch of mud which is still damp). Nuthatch love to nest in either a natural hole in an old tree, or a hole made by a Woodpecker; the female then adds mud to the entrance to reduce its size and so stop larger birds entering and predating their young. It seems very late for it to be doing this given that the other nest I am watching is still busily feeding its young which have not fledged, but perhaps it is trying for a second brood. The optimum time for them to lay is around April and May, and Nuthatch do sometimes breed a second time in one spring. This is great news for Highbury Park because this is a fairly sedentary bird which tends to spend its life fairly close to where it was hatched.

Usually, I end my blog at the point where I leave the park, but today I have a little tale to tack on. I was standing on my back doorstep chatting to a friend when they suddenly pointed into the sky and said: “What’s that?”

To the right and far above us was a very bird hovering in the air, its wings working rapidly to hold it in place above someone’s garden. It was a Kestrel. I have not seen one in this area before, away from the park – but I do hope to see one again, as it was a glorious sight to view from the comfort of my own home.

#swift #blackcap #nuthatch #highburypark #kingsheath #woodpecker #kestrel

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