On the first day of my recent short break in East Sussex, I got a text from a birding friend, checking that I’d seen the news that a female Black redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros) had been seen in the Penarth marina area. As I’m probably one of the few people these days who doesn’t have a smartphone, I was offline throughout my holiday so, no, I hadn’t seen the news, and I just had to cross my fingers that the bird stayed around for a week until my return.
I got lucky! The morning after I got back, I was up and out early, down the hill, bins out and looking. She took a while to find but find her I did.
The Black redstart is a spring and autumn passage migrant and an uncommon winter visitor to Glamorgan, though in recent years birds have been seen in and around the Cardiff Bay area during the winter months. It’s a small bird, about the same size as a Robin, and, as you can see, the female is rather nondescript, mostly grey, with a reddish tail. As she positioned herself on the rooftops so she could spot any passing insects and was almost constantly on the move, my photos are not great but it was a real pleasure to catch up with this little beauty.