Went for a walk on the hill this morning which turned into a mammoth 3 hour session.
Things began well when the long-awaited Great Spotted Woodpecker finally showed, bringing the hill back up even with Cullaloe. I thought it would struggle once Cullaloe started to get waders, and it still might, but it certainly bounced back today. A meandering walk around towards, and then along, Cuddyhouse Road produced not much of interest until I rounded the north side of the hill and found a large thistle bed on the eastern side.
The whole morning had been punctuated by Green-verined White butterflies, which were everywhere, along with one Small Tortoiseshell and one Peacock. This thistle bed had about ten Tortoiseshell and a couple of Peacock and I stood in the sunshine watching them flit about and move from head to head. A Stock Dove called from the trees above. Not far from here is a tree stump where I saw my first Treecreeper, when I only had compact binoculars about 20 years ago. As I thought about that, a Raven called from overhead and circled around for a bit before heading off towards the hilltop. As I stood watching the butterflies a pristine Red Admiral dropped onto a head about 2.5 metres from me, just far enough for me to focus my bins on it. What a cracking butterfly it was, with no signes of wear anywhere.
As I turned towards home I noticed some Shepherd's Purse underfoot and I had a look at it, noticing that the nearby trees had a bit of birdy activity going on. Lots of Goldfinch were twittering, but another sound caught my ear - a juvenile Spotted Flycatcher! This is a first for me on the hill, and there turned out to be 3 juveniles being fed by 2 adults. Of course I didn't have my camera, so I went home and got it, fairly confident that they would remain in the area. They did :)