One of the few summer visitors that I haven't caught up with yet is Pied Flycatcher, I decided to put that right today, with a warm day in prospect the coolness and shade of the woods sounded good. Leaving far later than is good for catching up with woodland species, courtesy of the school run, I was on the A1 when a text came through from ST highlighting that he had had Damselflies emerging this morning. A quick stop at a small pond en route produced as promised the first Damsels of the year, female Common Blue Damselfly (?).
I pushed on south and on a very warm morning walked the kilometre or so into the place I saw and heard my very first Pied Flycatcher, some 21 years ago and still one of the most enchanting woods in Northumberland, off the beaten track and largely undisturbed. Walking in through the dappled light under the tall Beeches with a Chiffchaff and the occasional Goldcrest for company, I was transported away into an ethereal otherworld and lost for several hours, only the birds and the gentle sound of running water for company.
Many woodland flowers still out and one that I haven't come across elsewhere so far this year is pictured below, I think it may be Tuberous Comfrey though seperating the various Comfrey species isn't easy for someone new to flowers like me.
Another first for the year was a single Speckled Wood that led me a merry dance for a while, never settling long and then choosing to land high in the trees out of reach. Still my favourite butterfly though, simply stunning.
As expected with the dawn chorus long finished I was left with the occasional song from Redstart, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch and some serious screaming from the local Jays. I located at least five singing Pied Flycatcher all hidden in the canopy and very difficult to locate with one ear. I had planned to find a vantage point and sit for awhile but ended up standing or squatting as I'd forgotten just how widespread Wood Ants can be in some places. Some patience and a female was found and not long after one of the males paid her a visit as she dropped low to inspect a possible nest hole. Probably the only real photo opportunity of the morning with the birds I was after, worth the wait even though they aren't the most spectacular you'll ever see.
And I'll leave you for tonight with this, didn't like his photo taken so rang his mates to gang up on me but I'll leave that story for another day.