Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Autumn thus far....

Its been a fairly long while since I have updated my blog, the birding has been good and I am now back at University and so the workload had gone from zero to a ridiculous amount, I am also trying to get on top of writing my species accounts for the Durham Bird Club annual report. Just got the Owls to do!

Since my last post I have as always done lots of birding; however I have nothing generally to report apart from prolonged periods of boredom finding very little. If there’s nothing at the coast and the weather is poor it’s a bit of a washout, though I imagine I am preaching to the converted.

A few Saturdays ago I made the decision to head down to South Yorkshire to see the female Pallid Harrier. I am a bit of a fan of BOP’s and I had never seen this age or sex of this species anywhere in the world so I went for a look. The bird had roosted the previous evening and so I was on site for dawn, at around 7.00AM the bird came out of the roost, flew up over the surrounding fields and away out of sight. It was all over so suddenly but the chance to enjoy the bird was not missed, it was clear to see the unstreaked lower belly, dark underwing contrasting with the pale hand, and of course the 4 primaries all counted and accounted for. Nice! I spent the rest of the day dipping a Rose-coloured Starling in Notts that had turned up whilst I was stuffing my face with McDonalds junk (sponsor me? Get in touch). Turns out that after 3 hours of unsuccessful searching the bird was seen in October…..2011! DOHHHHHHHHH! Now that’s late news, so close and yet so far.

Little action took place until Friday when on my day off Uni I decided to investigate the rather early and unseasonal arrival of a Hume’s Warbler at Cambois in Northumberland. After around an hour the bird started calling and was located, I had pretty good views of the bird which did appear to be quite bright but did call perfectly for Hume’s Warbler on more than one occasion. I then spent the afternoon dipping on another Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler in Whitburn, but the fact I had seen on in the hand really did not make this dip painful at all.

Saturday was an interesting day, the day started off with a call from Stringer. Much to my delight there was a Paddyfield Warbler at St Mary’s Island. I shot off down and was soon at St Mary’s Island and after a short while a bird gave itself up. In true typical ‘acro’ style the bird shot across in from of the crowd, perched in a willow before diving down into cover. I had to wait a while until the bird finally gave itself up. It showed well, allowing for study. It was evident that from these views this particular bird was not the Paddyfield Warbler but a Blyth’s Reed Warbler. The short primary projection was evident and the plain tertials and white underparts made the bird stand out, the lack of any strong head and facial markings eliminated Paddyfield Warbler from the mix. I saw the bird again on one more occasion well and also saw a Reed Warbler during the twitch. A Yellow-browed Warbler was consistent in its calling and I got good views of the bird in the willows briefly before it flitted off going back to feeding actively. Pretty decent afternoon, Blyth’s Reed Warbler is also a British tick for me. Score!

Sunday was a fairly uneventful birding day, with little really of note. Then at around 3ish news came through of a male Pied Wheatear on Holy Island. I got that twitchy feeling and had already decided so long as I could get across I would go and see the bird, I was sort of hesitating due to tide times but decided I could probably get across to Holy Island, rush along to the bird, enjoy it for a while and then leave contented. That’s exactly what happened. What a fantastic bird! The images and video really (as always to be honest) don’t do the bird justice. Another lifer, what a weekend! I've had a good autumn so far. 

Even a Gannet turned out to twitch the Pied Wheatear:
 (A rather friendly Gannet! - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Gannet - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(Pied Wheatear - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(Pied Wheatear - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

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