As is often the case the first bird I usually encounter during my local patch walks at Epsom Common is the 'Bottle' Tit. It rarely perches in one place for long so it always pays to have the camera ready .... how many times have I missed a decent shot because I haven't immediately taken the gear out of the bag!
Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus)
During the past few months the most obvious call has been the rich repertoire of the Great Tit including its seesawing ditty 'ti-ta .. ti-ta .. ti-ta' or 'ti-ti-ta .. ti-ti-ta .. ti-ti-ta' ( often described as sounding like 'teacher .. teacher .. teacher') but now that Spring is here my ears have to listen out for a somewhat similar song from a returning migrant .......
Great Tit (Parus major)
.... AND it wasn't long before I located a Chiffchaff who had just returned from its southern wintering home in Africa although, of course, many now overwinter in the south of England and southern Europe. This individual was constantly moving from perch to perch high in the canopy while calling out its name (most field guides describe its forceful monosyllabic song as 'silt sult sult sult silt silt sult sult sult silt etc') with frequent pauses when it reverted to its softly whistled 'hweet' call.
(Common) Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
A little later I caught up with another singing Chiffy in a more open location ..... but he didn't always want to show me his best profile. I'm sure Dave (Birds from Behind) will appreciate the bottom two shots!
During my early years of birding my mentors would often remind me to listen out for the scolding calls of Corvids when walking through woodland as this could often lead to finding them harassing an Owl or a much larger predator. Well last week this method paid off as I followed the ever increasing sounds of Magpies and Carrion Crows obviously unhappy at the presence of something within their woodland territory and I just caught a glimpse of a large raptor lazily flying through the trees to escape this noisy tirade. I hurried along the pathways and just managed a single shot of a perched juvenile Common Buzzard (blotched streaked markings on the breast) before it decided to move on to find a more camouflaged and peaceful location to rest.
Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
With sightings of Teal, Yellowhammer and Linnet in the last two days this years patch total is now up to 54 species.
Wherever you are .... have an enjoyable wildlife watching weekend. FAB.