First up was a male Kestrel, I hadn't seen it the day before but it was hard to miss now. On the same stretch of fields I came across a sleeping red fox curled up in the open, this was a personal first here and it struck me as odd that it be so exposed. The reason became obvious when it finally made off into cover, it was clearly suffering from mange.
The Dowitchers still weren't putting in an appearance so ridiculous as it seemed to me I decided to see if the Japanese Quails were visible this morning.
The field I'd seen them in the day before is about 75 metres square with four or five tractor-wide breaks running through. What chance could there possibly be of seeing them again? As I rolled up to the field something leapt from the surrounding berm into the crops. Had I not been looking for Quail I'd have presumed I'd just seen a rodent, a rat or something, but this didn't look long and sleek as a leaping rodent might. It was a Quail... unbelievable. I moved about 15 metres forward hoping it might come across the next berm and there was another Quail coming the other way. The same incredible bullet-like direct leap with no obvious wing movement at all. Again suggestive of a rodent rather than a bird. Are there only two Quail in this field? What are the odds of going to see a difficult species like this and seeing both birds within less than a minute. If there are only two I think I've used my entire supply of birding luck for 2016.
This Kestrel was loyal to a short stretch of road, present each time I passed on my way to check if the Dowitchers were viewable.
The closed eye and the fact that it was sleeping in the open ought to have been enough to suggest something was seriously wrong with the animal but I was still shocked to see the extent of mange when it made off.
Then it was back to check-out the Dowitcher pool again. The Eurasian Teal and Little Grebes were performing well.
And the Dowitchers? Yes I did catch up with them eventually, including the short-billed Long-billed Dowitcher of a previous post. More of them later.