Friday 5 April 2019

Fiery Imps!

Recently, Craig Thomas saw and photographed a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins off Flamborough and his pics enabled folks at Aberdeen Uni to identify them as being part of the Moray Firth group. This is the first time these dolphins have been confirmed this far away from their home range. Fantastic stuff! To help out a colleague, I popped over to Flamborough yesterday lunchtime to do a piece for BBC Look North about the sighting and to promote Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's cetacean survey this summer.


After doing the interview down by the super new Seawatching Hide, I took the opportunity to walk down to Old Fall to see if I could see the reported Firecrest. The skies had cleared and the sun was beautiful and once out of the wind behind Old Fall hedge, it felt lovely and springlike. A couple of Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests were feeding in the sunny lee of the hedge, but no Firecrest. A little further on, I thought I heard a Firecrest call, so I crept into the plantation and momentarily spotted a tiny bird in the dead weeds beneath the trees. The silvery white underparts contrasting with the vivid lime green upperparts immediately identified this fiery imp as it worked the stalks of last year's willowherb, seeking spiders and aphids.

In the sunlight, the Firecrest positively glowed; so different from the comparatively drab Goldcrests nearby. I watched this imp working the bare stems of Sycamore, carefully picking aphids from the green leaf buds. It zipped off and I refound it right up in the canopy of a Sycamore. The striking head pattern really shone out, giving the bird real character.

A little while later, the 'crest dropped down into a Bramble patch just inside the southern edge of the wood. It started calling repeatedly, alternating between a slightly nasal Goldcrest-like call to a more pure note and then a second bird popped up on the Brambles: another Firecrest! The two birds then worked through the tangle of briars, sometimes coming within a metre of me, giving lovely views. They were frequently hidden in the middle of the patch or on the ground beneath the Brambles, where only the occasional call betrayed their presence. Super birds!

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