With another random day off work in-hand, I decided to take a wander round Strensall Common. What I remembered of Strensall Common is that it’s always good for a Green Woodpecker and some butterflies. What I forgot is that, because of the nearby army base, your peaceful walk is constantly accompanied by the sound of small arms fire. It’s very unnerving, even if you know it’s miles away.
But it was one of those strange days where, despite plenty of singing and calling, there is little to be seen. At one point we could hear a Woodlark, but it just never made even a fleeting appearance.
There were however plenty of Gatekeeper butterflies around the open heathland:
The constant chirp of grasshoppers was another ever-present, though they rarely hopped into good view. When they did, they tended to leap for the undergrowth before any good in-focus picture could be taken.
As the rains came down, the birds went silent and steadily moved for cover. All bar one Great Spotted Woodpecker that landed on numerous trees and, at one point, a telegraph pole. You can clearly see the rain in this photo:
As we moved through into the main open heath of the common, the sun came back out, but still the birds proved elusive. That was until we hit upon one small group of no more than six bushes. In that group of bushes we spotted Siskin, Robin, Chiffchaff, Wood Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Dunnocks and Goldfinch. There may well have been more in there, but nothing was cming into the open and it made unpicking the mess of adult and juvenile birds an impossibility.
I have a great record of spotting Green Woodpeckers here and, technically, this record was maintained just before we left. One flushed noisily from cover, but was only really seen flashing away through the trees.
The day had one little surprise left though. You can travel hundreds of miles to see wildlife, but if there’s a point I keep trying to make it’s that you don’t always have to go far.
Sure enough, walking along just two minutes from home after getting back, a flash of colour in a dark beck caught my eye. A kingfisher. While standing looking down the course to try spot it through the undergrowth, we were delighted when it flew back and posed pretty clearly:
If I was a betting man I’d say it’s a juvenile as they are often a little more open. You can also make out a slightly pale tip to the bill in the reflection in the pictures.
Long-term readers know I’ve been looking for a decent kingfisher photo for a while, so I was delighted to get this, even if it wasn’t shining in the sunlight.