From 2 trips so far this week I have managed two outstanding birds, and not just by Soil Hill standards. On the 22nd I had cut my time on the hill short on account of my parents who warned me of and oncoming storm. On my way back down Taylor Lane, I was scanning the wall tops when I spotted a largish bird on one of the near walls. I struck me by its shape as being a Cuckoo immediately. However, a jogger was coming, so my heart was in my mouth that it would not flush. It did, but did not go far at all and I was able to rattle off a few photos. Thrilled, I texted out the news but when I looked up again it had gone and I could not refind it. However, on the 24th I refound the bird feeding on Peacock Caterpillars further down Taylor Lane and showing very well indeed.
If that was one patch tick, the second came on the 23rd when I was walking along the top and flushed a Grasshopper Warbler. To say I was thrilled with this would be an understatement. I've put the description under the date. Having only seen gropper once before I could stand to be corrected, although the evidence seems to be stacked up. A real nice treat.
Also on the 22nd I found a second Spotted Flycatcher down the lane left of the Koi farm. This time I got a proper look at them, and they were even flycatching right above my head, which was pretty awesome to see. Signs that Autumn has really hit the hill.
Soil Hill: Rook, Magpie, Starling, Feral Pigeon, Black-Headed Gull, Kestrel, Linnet, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Wren, Spotted Flycatcher, Cuckoo,
On the Northern Side of the hill's summit I was trudging through the grass when I flushed a small dark passerine. It lacked any white on its tail, which was narrow and pointed, or on its wings, removing both Skylark and Meadow Pipit as possibilities. Its back was a uniform dark brown. I considered Grasshopper Warbler as an option and went to flush it again in order to establish anything else on the bird. It clearly had an orange-y flash on its side, which was very distinct on the second flyby. The back was still very dark but appeared to be streaked. It landed in a field which was barbed off, so I decided to try and play it a gropper call and see if that did anything. I realised that the wind was strong, and my phone speaker was not, so quickly gave up. However, after around 5 mins it flew from the field, did a flyby past me and landed in the scrub behind me. I flushed it a few more times after to try and get a photo but did not pick up any more features, except the lack of a distinct Supercilium. I lost it in the thicker scrub at the top of the North Slope and subsequent efforts failed to re-locate it. From the features described I am confident that the bird was a Grasshopper Warbler, which was a species I never excepted to see on site once the marsh had been demolished. I was pretty thrilled with that.
Also a few bonus birds around this afternoon. First of these was a female type Common Teal which I initially flushed from one of the top pools, followed by a subsequent flushing from one of the fields adjacent to the summit. I also flushed a nice Common Snipe from the scrapes on the top, which was my first of the Autumn.
Soil Hill: Rook, Jackdaw, Woodpigeon, Swallow, Feral Pigeon, Linnet, Meadow Pipit, Black-Headed Gull, Starling, Common Teal, Grasshopper Warbler, Magpie, Common Snipe, Skylark, Common Gull,
Besides the aforementioned Cuckoo showing well, there were also 2 Common Buzzards circling the hill, though quite high and increasing in height as they moved south. Also 17 Mistle Thrushes down the track where the Spotted Flycatchers had been, plus a late Swift going south, and a large group of around 40 Swallows going south high.
Soil Hill: Swift, Mistle Thrush, Starling, Meadow Pipit, Feral Pigeon, Swallow, House Martin, Black-Headed Gull, Kestrel, Magpie, Pheasant, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, Stock Dove, Wren, Jackdaw, Common Buzzard, Lesser Black-Backed Gull,