Sunday, 2 December 2007

That Damned Elusive Black Redstart

We know it's windy when the ferries start sheltering between the land and the Goodwin Sands, waiting their turn to get into Dover Harbour. Winds gusted up to 60mph today, so it would have been more comfortable in the relative calm of the Downs, as this stretch of sea in called.

During the age of sail, Deal became important to ships sheltering or waiting for the right wind, and there are reports and drawings of hundreds of ships lying off the coast here.
Pride of Burgundy

An intended brief walk when the rain had stopped turned into a longer stay, when I saw the two Black Redstarts. One is very flighty and flies up the cliffs on sight, but the other (closer to the road) is more confiding.
But not as confiding as the resident Stonechats.
The Blackstart keeps around the rocks on the sea defences, but is tricky to photograph as it prefers to forage in crevices, emerging briefly for a breather and a look around, unlike the Stonechats which are happy to pose.

It doesn't help when people, children and dogs go past, making the bird fly, fortunately not too far. The failing light and camera battery didn't help either.
After a while I decided to call it a day, having lost touch with it, but as I was about to drive away, a bird flew against the car window and onto the beach - that Blackstart again! It was getting no lighter, but it would have been impolite not to follow, and finally get a head-and-shoulders portrait.

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