Friday, 30 December 2016

Stow-on-the-wold twitching Blue Rock Thrush

I have done some brutal and ridiculous twitches by public transport, but this could be one of the hardest I have ever done. Usually a coach overnight involves a trip of a few hours where I arrive at my destination in the morning ready to begin having slept on the coach, but with this one I had to change at Birmingham at 3.00 in the morning. It took its tole and by the end of the day I was very worse for wear.
The bird I went for, a Blue Rock Thrush, a male of uncertain age and uncertain origin. Its worth stating from the off that there is no guarantee that this bird will get accepted, and I happen to be in the school of thought that think it won't. I do however think it is a wild bird, regardless of the decision, and whatever it is, its a rather stunning bird and well worth going for a look at in my opinion.
Upon arrival at the site where the bird was, a housing estate in the Cotswolds, I was greeted to the news there was no sign, and since it had already been light for two hours and the bird usually shows first thing, I began to have my doubts about seeing the bird. These were no eased as over two hours passed with ample birders on site looking and still no sign of the bird. I did get a Waxwing as some compensation, but at the time it felt like something of a lost cause.
It was half 11 when it was finally located, just as I had lost all hope of it been seen, considering it predated overnight or otherwise. It was on the rooftops of the houses in a small parking lot. There was a thin fog in the air and it made viewing conditions less than optimal, but there was no doubt as to the birds identity. It stayed there for a short while before it flew off towards its usual spot in the main part of the estate.
This was its pattern of behavior for the rest of the afternoon, with it frequenting the parking lot but remaining mobile and frequently moving to other areas. The light did improve during the afternoon so I was able to get some decent shots. Sadly though my phone died, meaning I could only use my DSLR, no phone-scoping insurance for poor SLR photos. In the end though the bird put on a good show, hopping about the rooftops in great fashion, really good value to watch and well worth going for, regardless of the outcome of its origins.
-Blue Rock Thrush
Species List:
Stow-on-the-Wold: Waxwing, Collard Dove, Woodpigeon, Robin, Blackbird, Blue Rock Thrush, Dunnock, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Starling, Feral Pigeon,

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Beeley, Derbyshire twitching Dusky Thrush

When a remarkable Dusky Thrush turned up in Derbyshire on Sunday night, confirmed on the Monday, it seemed like a sure fire hit. The bird performed well for most of the Monday and apparently had been present for over two weeks before it got noticed. Seemed foolproof. Sadly 5 hours in the mist and fog only produced 60 seconds of bird. I can't complain as I did see it and other birders I know did not, but in all that time it was a little disappointing not to have got a little bit more.
The bird was discovered on a bird ID Facebook group, when a lady from the village uploaded three photos from the village of Beeley; a Starling, a Dusky Thrush and a Blackbird. It seemed remarkable but as the story unfolded it became clear that there was a seriously rare bird in a seriously bizarre location. The village was prepped, ready to be inundated with twitchers.
-Beeley getting ready 
The bird was confirmed on the Monday but I had not taken the plunge and at that point it was too late for me to travel and see the bird in daylight. I made my move the following day and arrived on site at half 10. The bird had not been seen for an hour, and such was the pattern of the day, it remained mobile and difficult to connect with throughout the day, hence why I only saw it for such a small period of time.
One thing is for sure though, should it winter, which it seems set to do, I will certainly be back for more, as it really is a smart bird. 
-Dusky Thrush
Species List:
Beeley, Derbyshire: Carrion Crow, Starling, Woodpigeon, Blackbird, Redwing, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Dusky Thrush, Siskin, Brambling, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, House Sparrow, Robin, Wren, Sparrowhawk, 

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Pembrokeshire twitching Masked Wagtail

Less than 24 hours after my departure from Spurn I was back in very familiar company. In my first evening back in Halifax I got a message from John Hewitt saying he had changed his mind on going for the Masked Wagtail in south Wales and was now going, asking if I wanted to come along. I agreed, and John said he was going to pick me up in Halifax at 4 the following morning. 
We arrived on site just after 10, Jonnie, John, another lad and myself. The Wagtail showed on and off for the two hours we spent watching it. Its preferred area was the sunny sides of the roofs of the houses in the village, which was the side we could not see from the road. But as the morning wore on it started feeding more and more on the side we could see, even coming down onto the road right in front of us.
Maksed Wagtail, the first record for Britain, is an eastern race of Pied Wagtail. Its black bib and white mask made it a really stunning bird, well worth the 12 hour round trip for me, and 16 hour round trip for the lads coming from Spurn. I took plenty of photos and was fairly pleased with what I got. 
-Masked Wagtail
A really enjoyable day out, in really nice weather with a cracking bird. The supporting cast was nice too, although nothing unusual, it was mainly common species that I have not seen for some time whilst at Spurn. Its what twitching is all about really.

Species List:
Camrose, Pembrokeshire: Rook, Jackdaw, Grey Wagtail, Chaffinch, House Sparrow, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Blue Tit, Masked Wagtail, Herring Gull, Dunnock, Robin, Collard Dove, Pied Wagtail, Starling, Magpie, Goldfinch, Meadow Pipit, Common Snipe,