Friday, 3 July 2015

Soil Hill

I said before I would not post individual posts for random trips to soil hill but today was a pretty sick day with 2 patch ticks and a host of other decent species to think about. I made my way around the far side near the wind turbines, with nothing major present. Next went round the top before heading down to where the Whitethroats area. I had 3 individual birds, one of which was a song flighting male.
While I was down here I sworn I heard a gropper but only twice while it was distant, and when I was closer I heard nothing. It was almost certainly a grasshopper that sounded a little funky. Also whilst here I had a patch tick of Common Blue Damselfly, and a flyby Oak Eggar moth, which was pretty sweet.
I heard a call that I knew immediately was something different, and sounded similar to the Tree Sparrows I used to hear whilst at Spurn. I looked up to see 3 small birds flying overhead. I had the camera in hand, not the bins, so grabbed some shots whilst I had the chance. I only managed one that was of any use. As soon as I returned to my bag I played both Sparrow calls on the Collins App, and it sounded only similar to what I had heard. My camera screen is broken so I had nothing really to go off and decided to look into it when I got back.
A quick look at Sparrows and the photos told me they were not Sparrows due to the forked tail. The call was nothing like any finches I am familiar with and the wing structure ruled out many other examples. Looking at the photos the wing structure ruled out many finches but by trying to draw out any features on the photos you can make out a streaky breast and apparent buffy browny underparts. With this in mind I checked out Twite on the App and the call sounded spot on for what I heard, which would explain why I did not recognise it, having not seen Twite since I started to pull my finger out with birding. These were my first Soil Hill Twite, my first in total since 2009 and my 198th species this year.
Oblivious to the fact that a patch tick had gone overhead and still contemplating putting them out as tree sparrows I continued on my way round the hill. At the main pond, which was now well dried up, I had Large Red Damselfly which may or may not be a patch tick for me, as I can't remember seeing one up there previously, but I probably have.
-Large Red Damselfly
That was about it for the top of the hill. I made my way down the track to the 'forest'. I had intended to spend a short time there having a look for anything within, but as soon as I arrived I could hear Goldcrest calling within and so waited it out. I sadly only saw it once but it was a good view, withing the canopy of one of the trees. Undoubtedly the same bird as I saw before, almost a week ago. No doubt its been hiding within the trees this whole time.
Whilst I was there I got chatting to Bradshaw John about things that had been happening recently. As we parted about 10 mins later I happened to notice something flying slowly through the swifts over the top. I raised my bins to see that it was indeed a bird, and that it looked like a bird of prey. Since it seemed in line with the swifts and seemed only marginally bigger I assumed it was a falcon of some kind, but it was steadily flying towards me, so I kept my bins trained on it until I could make more out on it.
It came over and it appeared to be getting bigger, and that the perspective of it had been what had thrown me with the size. I thought I caught a glimpse of a fork in the tail but the angle and distance were not helping. However, the fork in the tail soon became clear, and the bird consequently revealed itself to be a Red Kite, a patch tick and one I had been pretty gripped by in recent times.
I called out so John, who had already started up to the top, could get on it. I then took a plethora of photos to confirm the sighting. Another excellent patch tick, we are on a roll on Soil Hill. 
-Red Kite
And with that, thrilled to bits with the days work, I headed back to enjoy a lovely afternoon of Wimbledon. Two patch ticks and reconnecting with the Goldcrest, as well as a host of superb insects. This is why Soil Hill is a great patch, push through the dross and it will reward you.

Species List:
Soil Hill: Blue Tit, Blackbird, Magpie, Linnet, Woodpigeon, Skylark, Carrion Crow, Meadow Pipit, Twite, Swift, Whitethroat, Goldfinch, Swallow, Goldcrest, Red Kite, Common Blue Damselfly, Large Red Damselfly, Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood, Small Heath,


  1. Nice blog Daniel.
    Thanks for the Red Kite "holler" - I got a pic or two... and the Twite - good stuff - way beyond my birding capabilities recognising those three.

    Hope to see you around. Good luck with the 'ell plates!


  2. Great stuff Daniel, well spotted on both counts, thanks for the text.
    A great write up.

  3. Glad you got on it John, it was a pretty sweet surprise and always nice to see
    Hopefully see you both up there over the summer