These high fliers are also TV stars

PUBLISHED: 12:54 08 June 2007 | UPDATED: 22:51 28 May 2010

It is great to see wildlife getting a starring role on the television now with the BBC s Springwatch season in full swing, with everything from corncrakes and kingfishers to hen harriers and hares performing. Hopefully, this will be stirring up lots of i

It is great to see wildlife getting a starring role on the television now with the BBC's Springwatch season in full swing, with everything from corncrakes and kingfishers to hen harriers and hares performing.

Hopefully, this will be stirring up lots of interest in our wildlife and ways in which people can help it in their gardens and further afield by supporting the work of conservation bodies.

It is a busy time at my place of work, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) headquarters as people take advantage of our nature reserves and events all over the country to see the wildlife they have seen on their TV screens for themselves, in the flesh.

It is a great time to be out now with a lot to be seen. Bird migration is almost over now until 'return passage' commences in a few weeks. My 'bird radar' switches off once May ends and I start to turn my attention to plants and insects and those species I would like to make a special effort to see this year.

It is great to connect with these scarcities and localised species and travel around a bit, but it is the first sighting of familiar ones that is still a cause of great pleasure for me each year.

Just before sitting down to write my column for this week, I was surprised by an absolutely perfect, freshly emerged male emperor dragonfly flying around low over a large pond. I couldn't take my eyes off it for several minutes as it performed circuits without ever landing.

This is our largest species and is a tremendous sight with its bright blue body and impressive size. Males patrol a stretch of river or pond waiting for a female to mate with and may spend time warring with rival males. This is when they start to become damaged on their wings from regular clashing with others.

Spotted flycatchers become scarcer by the year, so it is nice to have a few around my place of work. Their 'clicking', discordant notes come from the tallest trees on the sunniest days. They are unobtrusive as they sit motionless in the canopy, but wait patiently and you will see them darting out to catch flies in their beaks. I like to think there are several pairs still around in the Fens. Perhaps you have a pair in your garden?

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