May 20th- spotted flycatcher, wren and my daily swift diary

A male spotted flycatcher continues to sing loudly from the edge of Gilling Woods. I had good scope views this morning from my studio and made some sketches then a more detailed watercolour study. It is a real privilege to be able to see this species in Gilling East. On a recent walk in the woods I was delighted to find four singing males, not including this bird. They are such an attractive bird to paint, such a soft warm grey upper with very delicate streaks on the pale underparts. Given a good view you can see that the forehead is streaked quite heavily. I am looking forward to more flycatcher sketching sessions as summer progresses.

A wren performed its loud song frequently. It was a good opportunity to really study the species and work on trying to depict its character. Also to see how the strong May sunshine coloured the plumage. I made some sketches of some particularly intense singing where the bird stretched out horizontally, thrusting its tail forward over its rump.

Swift Diary

At least one new swift arrived today. So we have five birds back in our immediate vicinity. I watched all five tracing curves in a clear blue sky save streaky cirrus. I am not surprised to see a new arrival having looked at the surface pressure charts today. Migration conditions for the final leg of their long journey from Africa look perfect with a light southerly breeze blowing across the English Channel. I would be very surprised if more do not arrive in the next day or two. Many thousands have been counted moving North through France in the last two or three days. We had a few very fast low passes from our pair and another bird this morning, but I think our swifts are concentrating on feeding intensively to be in a good condition to breed.


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