Pied in the Sky

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It’s very good that it is not us doing the bird ringing because we had no idea what bird this was. Turns out it is a Pied Flycatcher – a juvenile female.

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Pied Flycatchers are to be found only in the west of the UK and only during the summer. We have seen them before in Yarner Woods on the flanks of Dartmoor and Wales is also a good place to see them. So, what is this bird doing on the east coast of Kent then? Well, the bird ringer thought that this might be a bird from the woods of Poland that was migrating back to Africa.

Here is her triangular fly-catching beak:

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I subscribe to an email service alerting me to interesting birds sighted in the area and there were several other Pied Flycatcher sightings along the same stretch of coast yesterday.

This is our first Pied Flycatcher sighting for these meadows (species number 67).

Moving on from Pied Flycatchers to another pied animal – Great Pied Hoverflies.

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A Great Pied Hoverfly (Volucella pellucens) recently spotted here

A wasps’ nest in a pile of hay was raided by a badger a fortnight ago but presumably a Great Pied Hoverfly, that is parasitic on wasps’ nests, had laid its eggs in the nest before it was attacked. At least ten of its larvae hatched out yesterday and, because the nest is now devastated, they are open to the air rather than enclosed within the nest:

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These larvae were attacking wasps that got too close:

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Because we only had a phone to take photos on at the time, the quality of these photos is far from wonderful but I have found a couple of photos showing exactly this on the internet and they are much better quality:

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Really quite the stuff of nightmares, but completely fascinating for all that.

While we were gathered around the ringing station watching the Pied Flycatcher being weighed and measured before being ringed and released, a Kestrel was hovering low above our heads:

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I am trying to learn my new camera and I do know now how to bump up shutter speed which would have really helped here but sadly my brain didn’t have time to react.

This Kestrel was a young female. Male and female Kestrels look very different as shown in this really useful aide memoire below:

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My last photo today is of a bit of a tug-of-war going on between Scarface and some of the reeds I pulled from the pond as he tries to get them through the hole under the fence to use as new bedding:

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