Sunday, 30 June 2013

Hide & Seek at Risley Moss - 9 April 13


We had some brilliant entertainment this morning at Risley Moss in Cheshire. Having started at the look-out tower for a bit of a raptor watch, the cold, miserable weather soon had us heading for the sanctuary of the woodland hide.

First of note were a couple of Yellowhammer. I had forgotten what a good spot this was for this fairly shy bunting and you can get a really good look at them here. Watching them ground-feeding alongside a few Reed Bunting, Chaffinch and Dunnock, it was noticeable how the two Yellowhammer clearly preferred their own space and they were always the first to flush.

Before long, PK's Great Spotted Woodpecker radar went into overdrive as she clocked a pair of them darting about in the wood, the female being chased by the male.

A short time later, the male appeared at the feeder station and the female soon followed. We watched the pair feed separately on the suet filled holes, as we have done here many times before. But we noticed how they constantly kept an eye on each other!

It was a surprise to see the male fly off first and the female then chase after him. But normality was restored when the female sped through with the male in hot
pursuit. They disappeared for a while but when they returned, the courtship display that we witnessed was fantastic.

We first saw the female as she settled mid-way up a nearby tree and her constant glances upwards led us to the male. Perched higher on the adjacent tree, he was rather fidgety and side-stepped up and down the branch whilst always looking down at the female.

It was the female that provided most of the
entertainment, as she went through a 'playing hard to get' routine.  She would first look up at the male, no doubt making sure that he was watching, then would manoeuvre herself into a hiding position, before showing herself and then hiding again!

Occasionally, the male would fly off, circle the female and then return to a different perch. Whereby, the female would simply reposition herself and reconvene her performance.

We enjoyed this spectacle for 20 minutes or more before the woodpeckers moved on. What a privilege it was to witness a very amusing display.

Back to the feeding birds and we added Blue, Coal, Long-tailed and Great Tits. Plus Nuthatch, Blackbird, Jay, Woodpigeon and a passing Raven.

Male Yellowhammer feeding in front of woodland hide

Male Bullfinch - I think he knows he's a looker!