Saturday, 28 August 2010

Birding on the fly

One of three Spotted Flycatchers in The Grove this morning.
A change of pace today, dipping in to Alexandra Park for three Spotted Flycatchers in The Grove alongside Bob Watts, and then dipping out at Regent’s Park, where this morning’s Pied Flycatcher was a no-show during my visit (the second time in a month I’ve missed the species there).

It’s amazing how unsatisfying such tick-and-run attempts are, whether successful or not – it’s definitely the downside of year-listing. But that didn’t deter me from doing the same thing again a couple of hours later at Brent Reservoir, where Roy Beddard, Andrew Self and others had seen a Common Redstart. With my 10-year-old, Ava, in tow and time against us, I finally resorted to a little gentle encouragement in the form of the BirdGuides Birds of Britain and Ireland (Pro Edition) iPhone app.

This inexpensive and useful app has images, text, maps and vocalisations, and on a quick play of the call a dapper male Common Redstart duly popped up in response – not a technique I like to over-use, but worth resorting to in certain circumstances. I tried to show Ava the bird and the screen images of its different plumages, but that was too big an ask of the migrant and it dropped back down out of view. A couple more Spot Flies, several Willow Warblers and Blackcaps and a Common Chiffchaff later, and we were on our way home – without the time to try for yet another London year bird in the form of Quail, this time near Banstead. Maybe tomorrow.

Alexandra Park year-list update:
81. Spotted Flycatcher.

London year-list update:
195. Common Redstart.


  1. Nice shot. Like the glint in the eye!

  2. I went to Banstead to try and see the Quail at around 6pm - someone apparently tried a vocalisation during the afternoon and it hasn't been heard ever since - certainly wasn't vocal while I was there. Might see you first thing!



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