I don't often go birding to Knole Park except in early summer on the hunt for Redstarts and other migrants but a friend told me he had recently been watching of family Spotted Flycatchers and seen a Winchat there. So, this morning I took the short drive and had a wander. Its a big area to hunt in but following detailed instructions I soon found the flycatchers and what a fine sight too; a family group together in low beech trees swooping in and out after insects. I failed to find the Winchat however and must assume either that I was in the wrong place or that it had moved on, this being the key time for them to be heading south after breeding.
         
Spotted Flycatcher, adult and juvenile.






The young Cuckoo in its mottled garb

Green Woodpeckers are common in Knole Park

         Heading back to the car happy to have seen the flycatchers, a long, dark bird flicked quickly from one tree to another in front of me and made me stop. Obscured by low branches, I could not make out it what it was at first. It looked like a possible Sparrowhawk or even a very dark feral pigeon. Then it moved again, sharp winged, mottled brown and elongated, and perched up clear enough for me to see that it was a fine young Cuckoo. We watched each other - I am not sure who was more surprised; before it flicked off again onto another low branch, always in the shadows, fearful of exposing itself. I saw it several times in the next half an hour before park cyclists flushed it out of my line of sight. As a birding pal noted when I texted out the news....how will it find its way back to Africa now.

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