This evening nm husband rushed in after moving the cows and lambs. I thought he was going to tell me something was ill but anxiety turned to excitement as he told me he had just seen a Spotted Flycatcher in the neighbours garden. Once a regular breeder around here, Spotted Flycatchers are now very rare. I haven't seen one locally since 2010 so this news had me grabbing my bins and rocketing out of the back door, particularly as this would be another patchwork tick. There were a tense few minutes before the flycatcher popped up in the Bird Cherries on our boundary and then did a couple of mini circuits of the corner of the garden, showing beautifully. Of course, I hadn't grabbed my camera.
The Bird Cherries, incidentally, are laden with fruit and have attracted a horde of hungry blackbirds. Their numerous high-pitched calls especially as they go to roost in the alder wood lend a very autumnal atmosphere to the evenings. With a week off work next week a bit of autumn migration would not go amiss.
The BTO cuckoos are well on their way south now. I've sponsored a cuckoo for each of the last 3 years. The first year it was Lyster who made it to Africa and back again but sadly died in the desert on his southward migration in 2012. Last year my cuckoo was John who made it only as far as Spain before dying in the drought that struck there. This year my cuckoo is Ken who after taking the Spanish route has happily made it across the Sahara and is now in Burkino Faso. I also have an interest in Patch, courtesy of Patchwork Challenge. He's currently languishing in Northern Italy. It's strange how you can get attached to an icon on a map but I find myself feeling the tension when my cuckoo sets off on that big leap across the barren sands of the Sahara. It's a big relief when that icon reaches the other side and you can track it moving around in vegetated areas replenishing its energy reserves before moving on to central Africa.