So here I was in a University waiting to go into a lecture when Mark Newsome texts me (cheers again Mark) that a Red-flanked Bluetail had been caught at Whitburn Costal Park....a mere 10 minute drive from my University. Drat!!!! Any other time I would be fine, infact I had a free 30 minutes just before I went into the lecture and on a Tuesday and Friday I have a couple of hours spare. Very frustrating, I have a feeling the bird had a copy of my timetable. I went after University and dipped the bird, it hadn't been seen for 30 minutes before I arrived and there was no sign at all of the bird by 5.00.
Nearly at University and a text comes through again from Mark Newsome and Adrian George (thanks guys) to inform me that the Red-flanked Bluetail had been caught again!!!! Good news it was still there and I managed to get to Whitburn Costal Park but it had been released (understandably) and I went back to University to avoid being late! I headed back an hour later and the haul produced no Red-flanked Bluetail but a new Yellow-browed Warbler was trapped and ringed, awesome! Was my second this year:
(Yellow-browed Warbler - © Andrew Kinghorn)
I headed back to University for another hour before heading back again, I returned to find out the bird had been caught and swiftly released again. Another missed chance, but the birds welfare is more important and once any bird is ringed and details are taken there is no point hanging onto the bird so its just released which is only to right, the fact I kept missing the bird is well; hard lines. Though when I had arrived they had just caught a Woodcock, awesome!
(Woodcock - © Andrew Kinghorn)
(Woodcock - © Andrew Kinghorn)
However this time when I arrived the bird was in a smaller less dense section of the Costal Park, we stood at a location where we were told the bird had flown into for about an hour and half and not a sign of anything bar a Blue Tit. I decided it definitely wasn't where people said they saw it fly to so I checked the area where it was originally seen. Low and behold it flew into the small stand of trees for a few seconds showing its red flanks and bluetail before diving straight back into thick cover. Super! Now just to get a good view!!!! 20 mins or so passed and Cumbrian birder Craig Shaw had arrived. We got fleeing glimpses in poor light in dense cover of the bird and I needed to go back to University as my time was up, I wandered off from the now growing crowd and looking into a sycamore and saw a small bird moving about. A few seconds later there was the bird; first it showed its white eyering before moving a little and showing its bluetail. I called the others over and it went missing again. I had a good 5 or so second view at close quarters through my bins and I really needed to get back. Red-flanked Bluetail get on the Durham life list!
(Red-flanked Bluetail - © Chris Bell)
I had another 3 hour stint at University and returned for the last few hours of light just to see what was happening. Needless to say I was informed on arrival the Red-flanked Bluetail had been showing so I headed down for another look, these are awesome birds! It was nearly dark and then local birder Steve Howat picked the bird up and it we soon got on it and were enjoying prolonged views of this stunning bird, better than what I had before if not a little bit more distant.
Lets not neglect the vis mig that was going on! I had 3 Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, 2 Short-eared Owls, Brambling, Blackbirds, and other species come in off the sea. 1 of the SEO's came in off the sea and started hunting the rough grassland only a few hundred meters away from us. Keen or what!
I left the Costal Park at about 6.15 for the Durham Bird Club Committee meeting, however I had learnt while standing looking for the Red-flanked Bluetail that a Rufous-tailed Robin had been found in Norfolk! AGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH PANIC! By the end of the day I failed to find a car share until a mate Tom Middleton said we should go. Brilliant! It was 10 at night and I rang around and found someone else from Durham (Simeon Grundy) and we set off for Sheffield at 12.30 ish. We arrived about 2.30 -3.00 and then jumped cars into Tom's and headed to Norfolk for first light.
We arrived in Norfolk for about 6.30 ish and it was still pitch black and with the sky so clear we all knew deep down the bird had gone...it had. We didn't see much else and departed Norfolk, but we are glad we gave it a go. After all sitting in the house and not bothering would mean I certainly wouldn't have seen the bird! To be honest we were all knackered and with nothing much having turned up in Norfolk at about 12.15 we headed back. Myself and Simeon did end the day on a high though, we got back to Saltholme RSPB just in time to see the Glossy Ibis and 4 Snow Geese. Both were county ticks for me, I would have preferred some not Category C Snow Geese but there's time for me yet...I hope. The Glossy Ibis is the first in Durham since 1992, that last bird was a 1 day wonder and when it was present I was only 1 year old!
(Glossy Ibis - © Ian Forrest)
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(Glossy Ibis - © Andrew Kinghorn)
(Snow Geese - © Ian Forrest)
Until next time, Foghorn out!