Saturday, 5 June 2021

Tysoe, Balscote Quarry & Nether Worton :: 29 May 2021

After the excitement of the purple heron on Friday night (photos in the previous post) I arose early and headed for a small wood where I believe lesser spotted woodpecker has been seen - at least a friend of a friend is sure. I searched for just over an hour but with no luck but counted pass-through of great-spotted woodpecker four times. I could hear a cuckoo calling and despite not finding the bird it was a very relaxing way to ease into the morning - I don't know if I can think of anything that makes me feel †his way. I decided that I'd try again another day and jumped back into the car and drove to Tysoe where I know the owners of some private land where there have traditionally been little owls, and some had been reported a month or so ago.

I set up observation at a distance from where I understood the sightings had been and against a hedge. I waited for almost 45 minutes before I decided to move forward and see if there was any movement beyond. I stood by the trees of interest and after 5 minutes or so a little owl departed and landed in a tree beyond. Raising my bins, I gould see there were two little owls in the tree and went for the camera. As I raised it a pair of blackbirds appeared to get very agitated with the little owls and drove them off giving only a passing opportunity to record their presence. They flew back and away from me. At least I now know where to look again.

Little owl

I relocated to Balscote Quarry to see if anything had dropped in there. It took me a while to find but eventually a little ringed plover showed on a small spit that has been gradually rising against the dropping water level. The willow warbler continues to sing, eight sand martins fed across the water and up to five magpies were visible at a time. A single roe deer fed far to my left. I decided that breakfast was calling and headed home.

Roe deer

After lunch I suggested that my wife and I go for a short walk, and we decided on a loop around Nether Worton that she hadn't walked previously - it is an extension to a walk we have done before. Selecting this location is always a good idea this time of year as it offers the possibility of catching up with spotted flycatcher which are regulars around the church, cottage and trees around. We passed the church and identified a spotted flycatcher as it landed on a protruding branch high in the trees beyond. It fed, as spotted flycatchers often do, by using this as a spot to return to after each foray around the tree. As we watched some movement to the right caught my attention - it was a nuthatch moving along a branch, occasionally on the side we could see.

Spotted flycatcher
Spotted flycatcher

We continued on and added a yellow wagtail, yellowhammer, willow warbler, several chiffchaff and a kestrel mobbing a red kite, to our list. As we approached Over Worton we were watching chaffinch and assorted tits in a tree when they were joined by another spotted flycatcher. We passed through Over Worton and through the churchyard but didn't see any more flycatchers, although I am pretty sure there are more. In the rigs at the foot of the hill there was still a surprising around of wet ground despite the very dry conditions underfoot everywhere else - I expect this is the point of such farming practice ...

We noted a small moth in the scrub and remarked on how pretty it was - I hadn't knowingly seen this species before but understand it is quite common - a Mother Shipton moth.

Mother Shiton moth

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