Eventually the male appeared flying towards the post but obviously got sight of me at the last minute and banked away. The strategy appears to consist of the male keeping a watchful eye on the family as they hunt. He perches atop a high tree or post scanning the area for any danger and calls the juvenile away with a few screechy sounding alarm calls if danger beckons. If he decides to move them to a new area, he seems to check it out first and then calls them to him once the coast is clear. What a good Dad!
|The sentinel keeps watch!|
|Meanwhile one of the youngsters hunts below - look at the size of those feet!|
So the up-shot of all that is getting a photo of any of them will be quite tricky. Also the light was very strong and the day was very hot.
I decided to leave the area and take a little stroll around. Perhaps I might come across that Wryneck again. As I passed a small stand of conifers a movement caught my eye. A small Phyllosc was poking around the upper branches of a stunted fir tree. At first I thought it was a Willow Warbler, then a very pale Wood Warbler before I finally saw the thin off-white wing bar and realised it was a Greenish Warbler. It didn't hang around for long but I was pretty pleased to have seen it all the same.
After that, I found a path that went past some apple orchards before coming out onto some open uncut meadow. I hadn't taken this route before and figure now that if I had been here earlier in the summer the chances would have been good for Corncrake, it was perfect habitat and the bird is still hanging on in Latvia. Anyway, before I reached the open meadow I had a couple of Reed Warblers, several juvenile Common Whitethroats and another RB Shrike family (they've done well this year it seems).
I was just thinking Whinchat when off in the distance I could see a small chat like bird sitting up on a piece of thistle. As I scanned I could pick out three of four more including two rather shaggy looking adults (obviously moulting). I had to do a bit of creeping around on my belly before I could get in anyway close for a shot. This juvenile posed on a clump of nettles before catching sight of me and hare-tailing it off in a right hurry. The result is not too bad though, if I say so myself.
|Whinchat, Lielupe River, Jurmala, Latvia - 2nd August 2013|
After that I took off home. Today I gave the birding a break but stayed in the back garden all afternoon. I even cut the grass for Polina's Mum. I was rewarded with the presence a very nice Lesser Whitethroat mooching around some bushes by the back fence. What great garden birds!