Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Norfolk Holiday Day 3; Part 1-Because this bird needs a part of its own

Having heard the rumors fly around yesterday I headed to Cley to try and get some clarification on what, if anything, was really about. It seems that there was an Olive Backed Pipit at Holme, though that was too far away for me to bother with, and it had not been seen this morning. The other rumor of a Red-Flanked Bluetail at Stiffkey, was also true, but also seemed a much more attractive option, as well as a more realistic option, as i could actually identify a Red-Flanked Bluetail, should it come to that. To help to keep the birds pinned down, the fog had not budged in the slightest, so anything that was around would have likely stayed the night.
  I had got a lift to Cley with my mum and dad, who intended to go for a walk along Blakeney point, so we had just pulled into the car park at the beach. There were a few birders around, but the key is picking the right one to ask in order to get reliable information. Fortunately I chose right and was told exactly how to get to the Bluetail, down a road to the campsite, then immediately left into the woods for half a mile.
  I managed to persuade my mum and dad to take me, as they had not set off for their walk yet. We did however manage to not find the turn off down to the campsite as it was not signposted. Fortunately  I had brought my "where to watch birds in Britain" book, which had a rather handy map of Stiffkey and as a result found it at the second time of asking.
  I managed to get lost again though, as I took the path along the edge of the saltmarsh instead of through the wood. There was probably about a billion birds on the saltmarsh, but due to the persistent fog was unable to see any of them. I did however manage to add little egret to my list of species for the day, as well as redshank.
  Fortunately I managed to find a birder who had just seen it. When I asked him he started to go on about some redstart that was apparently about, and had to persist to get where exactly the Bluetail was, "just follow this path through the woods" (the one he just came down from). "you'll see a big crowd of people".
  So I followed that path and found the birders all with their binoculars raised. No sooner did I find the mob, than did I find the bird, as it was perched on an out sticking branch. The anticipation sort of when out of it then. There was no challenge to finding the bird, I diddnt even need to ask anybody. Because everyone was watching it, I diddnt even need to see any features, just its outline to know what it was.

It was all soon forgotten though when I set eyes on the bird. The people who seemed to be "in the know" told me that it was a first winter male. I set up scope at the back of the bunch, and the bird flew right past me and landed really quite close, allowing me to get smashing views of what really is one of the finest birds any twitcher could wish for.
  When it first flew past me I was really able to make out the distinguishing features, blue tail, red flanks, white chin, etc. It was a really nice bird to see, and really photogenic too, though because of the fog I seem to have misjudged my focusing whenever it perched really conveniently, which is a shame. The following is a collection of the best photos from the day, like I said, not brilliant, but do they matter that much when you get views as good as that?

-Red Flanked Bluetail 
I stayed for 2 hours watching it, but for the last hour it became something of a farce, a the bird would move, so all the twitchers would follow it, up and down the thin stretch of woodland. I followed suit for half an hour, but then decided to stay put and wait for the bird to come to me, which it did eventually, giving me one last great look through the scope before I decided to call it a day. While I waited I managed to see some goldcrests and some long tailed tits, a new bird for the holiday.
  Apparently there was a yellow browed warbler in the wood too, but nobody was watching for it, and as one guy put it to me, "you need to know its call in that wood", and as a result, I didn't find it. I decided that finding your own birds after moving on would be a more rewarding experience than to try and find this YBW.
  So I left the red flanked bluetail having seen a smashing bird with smashing views. To say I went for it just because it was there would not be true, as I have wanted to see this species since I started to follow records.    I have to say that it was well worth it, and from a twitchers point of view, a great "tick". After that, now around 12, I caught a bus in Stiffkey and went on to Cley.

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