We didn't arrive at the reserve until mid-morning and the car park was almost full, so we knew that, unusually, quite a lot of birders were going to be on the reserve.
Near the reserve entrance 2 Willow Warblers and a Chiffchaff were in full song and, after walking about 100 yards, I noticed a raptor in the distance being mobbed by a Carrion Crow - a Common Buzzard, one of two seen. Two more Willow Warblers and 2 further Chiffchaffs were seen and a few Coal Tits were heard.
Two Tree Pipits were singing from the tops of Scots Pines and 2 male Stonechats were present around the reserve, one sitting right at the top of a very tall Scots Pine. A Nuthatch gave us a very close, but brief view and then my wife Sue spotted two Common Redstarts together, both males, tolerating each other and feeding together. Two more males were seen further round the reserve, but no females. A Kestrel was hovering over the MOD land with a Sparrowhawk circling high above it. Another Sparrowhawk was also seen later.
Male COMMON REDSTART
In the distance, we heard the distinctive call of a Raven and later we spotted one high over the reserve being mobbed by a Kestrel, the Kestrel looking small compared to the giant corvid.
The Raven circled high above us, its wedge-shaped tail and deep cronking call making it very distinctive. It eventually gained so much height that it appeared a speck in the sky, even through binoculars.
The view from Keeches Bridge
A Cuckoo was calling distantly and, on the way back to the car park, Sue spotted a raptor in the distance. A quick look through the binoculars revealed a Hobby dashing across the heathland.
We met another birder who was standing staring at a conifer and he kindly pointed out to us a female Common Crossbill sitting quietly on a branch. I have to admit that we would not have noticed it. Our thanks to him.
Female COMMON CROSSBILL