Black Redstart, Happisburgh - 26th March 2010
I walked out to the Coast Watch this afternoon in the hope that there may possibly be a Black Redstart there. The remains of the old wartime radar and coastal battery sometimes hosts them, and the semi-permanent muck heap no doubt helps with the attraction. Two had been reported from the car park in the village two days previously but I'd had no luck with them there yesterday. On reaching the clifftop, I had to turn back somewhat disappointed as there was nothing of note to see. On the way out, the paddock I'd passed had appeared empty, but on my return a small bird atop the stables looked interesting. It was my hoped for quarry; a female Black Redstart. She sat quite still for a while before flitting down to the grass to seize a hapless insect and then moved on to the wooden railings that border the paddock. Another movement just beyond was, pleasingly, another Black Redstart in an almost identical plumage and both contentedly fed by dropping to the grass and flying back up to the fence to eat their capture before, with quivering rusty tails, seeking out more. Black Redstarts are now a very limited breeding species in the UK with perhaps less than 30 confirmed breeding pairs, and most that are seen are migrant birds passing through. In the early 1940's the species found that the huge number of bomb damaged buildings, left behind in the aftermath of WW2, were ideal nesting sites, and numbers significantly increased, only to fall again as our towns and cities were rebuilt. More info on the species' history in the UK can be found by following this link.