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Otley, A day never to forget

Birds have captivated humans throughout history with their vibrant colors, melodious songs, and graceful flight. Among the countless species that inhabit our planet, the Redstart stands out as a true gem in the avian kingdom. Inspired by one of my favorite books, "Birds in a Cage" by Derek Miemenn, I felt compelled to explore the fascinating world of Redstarts and shed light on their unique characteristics and captivating behavior.

The Enchanting Redstart:
The Redstart, scientifically known as Phoenicurus phoenicurus, is a small passerine bird found predominantly in Europe and Asia. Its name is derived from the Old English word "reestart" which means "tail that trembles." This intriguing name perfectly captures the Redstart's distinctive behaviour of constantly flicking its tail, adding an extra touch of charm to its appearance.

One of the most striking features of the Redstart is its vibrant plumage, particularly the male's breeding plumage. With its deep slate-blue head and upper parts contrasting against its fiery orange-red tail and underparts, the male Redstart is an absolute spectacle to behold. Its eye-catching colours make it stand out against the lush greenery of its habitat, turning any sighting into a memorable experience.

Redstarts are known for their incredible migratory journeys, spanning thousands of miles. They spend their summers in Europe and Asia, nesting in woodlands and forests, before embarking on their epic journey to spend the winter months in sub-Saharan Africa. Witnessing these tiny birds traverse vast distances and overcome numerous challenges along the way is a testament to their remarkable endurance and navigational skills.

While the Redstart's appearance is undeniably captivating, its melodious song adds an extra layer of enchantment to its presence. The male Redstart's song is a delightful combination of sweet, warbling notes and whistling trills, filling the air with a symphony of natural beauty. Their songs are not only used to attract mates but also to defend territories and communicate with other birds.

Redstarts prefer mature deciduous woodlands, often nesting in tree cavities or crevices in rocks. However, they are highly adaptable and can also be found in parks, gardens, and even urban areas. Unfortunately, like many other bird species, Redstarts face numerous threats, including habitat loss, pollution, and climate change. It is crucial that we prioritise their conservation by preserving their natural habitats and promoting sustainable practices
Derek Niemenn's "Birds in a Cage" showcases the beauty and wonder of birds, including the Redstart. This captivating species, with its vibrant colours, melodious songs, and incredible migratory journeys, continues to fascinate birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts worldwide. As we appreciate the Redstart's allure, let us also recognise the importance of conserving its habitat and protecting the diverse avian species that enrich our world.

So, next time you find yourself exploring the great outdoors, keep an eye out for the Redstart—a true feathered jewel that embodies the splendour of our natural world.
• Niemenn, D. (Year). "Birds in a Cage." Publisher.
• BirdLife International. (2021). Phoenicurus phoenicurus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2021: e.T22709251A182360610. Retrieved from

Common Tern: Staveley Reserve


Once upon a time, in the enchanting forests of Europe, a little bird with dashing black and white feathers embarked on the rollercoaster of life - the Pied Flycatcher! As spring arrived, these charming aviators returned from their winter holidays with stylish tan lines from soaking up the sun down south.

In the singles' hotspot of the forest, the males went all out to impress the ladies, flaunting their best moves and belting out love songs like pop stars. After some flirty fly-catching, the lucky ones found their match and became a monogamous couple.

Together, they worked tirelessly to find the perfect nest location, seeking a fixer-upper with good curb appeal. With a dash of twigs, a splash of moss, and a sprinkle of feathers, their nest was ready for the grand opening. Inside, they laid a small clutch of eggs, and their home became a nursery filled with joyous chirping.

The parents took turns incubating the eggs, while the other sneaked off for some "me time" at the local bug buffet. Once the chicks hatched, it was chaos! These tiny fluff balls demanded constant attention and food deliveries.

As the chicks grew, the parents morphed into overworked food delivery services, flying back and forth, trying to keep up with the bottomless pit of chirping mouths. But time flew by, and soon the chicks were all grown up, ready to leave the nest and face the world.

And so, with bittersweet emotions, the Pied Flycatcher parents bid their chicks farewell, hoping they'd soar high and find their own funny stories in this forest of life. And the cycle continued, each spring bringing new laughs, adventures, and unforgettable moments for these little comedians of the woods.

Frampton Marsh

Birds never stop amazing me, the interaction between the Spoonbill and the Black Winged Stints was incredible. I and many of my friends
Feeding together

Spoonbill to Spotted Redshank Part 2

Spoonbills are not the most tolerant of other birds, especially when feeding. In the film the Spoonbill and the Stint are feeding very closely to each other, something I have never seen before either in person or in the many films and videos I have watched. I also know how lucky I am to have seen this in the UK. Who knows maybe the Stints will make an attempt at breeding in this amazing location.

I didn't really want to go Birding on this particular day, however Phil, who is one of my longest standing friends and I had not been out for some time. Phil understood I was having a tough time and knew it would do me good. I also had words ringing in my ears from another long standing mate Pete. Go on it'll do you good. It's really easy to wallow and even feel sorry for yourself and I didn't want to do that.

We didn't set of too early but it's a two hour drive to Frampton from where I live, Phil arrived at mine bang on time and we were of, talking about birding, anything and everything, two minutes later we were there, well that's how it felt. And as soon as we got out of the car and after the necessary visit to the loo after a two hour drive we were into it. Ruff, Shelduck, and Wood sandpiper, even a Garganey all from the car park.
ABOVE: Black Winged Stilt & Spoonbill.
ABOVE: Garganey
ABOVE: Northern Lapwing.
ABOVE: The magnificent Wood Sandpiper.

Heslington York

I was working and my Birdguides app was pinging and pinging and pinging. Without looking I had no choice but to silence the phone. I was installing some signs at another nature reserve just over the border in Wales. It can be very frustrating, especially on a bank holiday when your app pings and a bird you really want to see, often a real rarity but you just can't get there.
We were joined by four students, young people with a real passion for wildlife, even in this horrendous weather they were positive, I soon knocked that out of them.
Stacks Image 4778
This particular bird was one I have seen before but in Spain and a real beauty for me. Their usual breeding grounds are Africa and Eurasia, they often form large noisy groups in fact very noisy especially when alarmed by predators or humans. These three were in York, near the university in Heslington, literally a few hundred metres from my daughters home.

I have seen many images of this bird basking in the sunshine, but for me there was to be no sun. As we were walking towards the bird hide which is quite a way from the birds we realised that a fence that had been put there some time ago, was still there. And the rain was getting much much heavier. My little warm but definitely not waterproof coat was breached in nanoseconds and water was getting into, well everywhere!

If you watch the video below you will be able to see the rain bouncing at least two feet of the water (I'm not prone to exaggeration) and this rain was going up my trouser legs! We were joined by four students, young people with a real passion for wildlife, even in this horrendous weather they were positive, I soon knocked that out of them hahaha.
Black Winged Stilt.

Three Black Winged Stilt, this really is a beautiful striking bird. Latin Name Himantopus Himantopus, how cool is that.



Birding Flamborough

We were lucky enough to be staying in Flamborough over the bank holiday weekend at the end of April. This in turn meant that when all the crowds had gone we had the cliff-tops to ourselves. I’m not being selfish, Flamborough's North landing can get pretty crowded.

The film below was all shot later in the day when activity amongst the colony is high with most of the birds either feeding or collecting nest material. There is something about North Landing, especially the very quiet area behind the cafe. This, for me is the most stunning part of this area and very few people go there.


Purple Sandpiper
Now for me this really is a very special bird. For many years I have been aware of a small flock of this very hardy bird. Often they hang around with the much bigger and equally robust turnstones. And Turnstones do just that! They turn stones over looking for food, small crustaceans.

The film below was taken early evening in the lower part of Bridlington old harbour. It shows the Turnstones in the foreground and the smaller Purple Sandpipers in the background. Also below is the sound recording of individual Purple Sandpipers.

The Turnstones are the larger more mottled birds and the Purple Sandpipers are smaller with a grey head. The name comes from the fact they are from the species Sandpiper but also they have a Purple colouring as adult birds in good light.

Sound of Purple Sandpiper

Above: Some of the many thousands of Gannets returning in the evening.
Above: Northern Fulmar.
Above: Kittiwake collecting mud and grass as nesting material.
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Made by Steve Farley