Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Black-bellied Dipper - Suffolk

A Cliff Swallow-less weekend...



A very frustrating two days not being able to get to Minsmere resulted in me still not having Cliff Swallow on my list. On Sunday (06 November) I paid homage to Needham Market's Black-bellied Dipper which has been residing around Hawks Mill for the past couple of weeks, locating it at the weir mid-morning. I spent fifteen minutes watching and photographing it and got a couple of other birders onto it before it flew downstream, maintaining my 100% success rate of never having dipped a Dipper.

Hawks Mill weir, where I initially located the bird on Sunday











Doing what they do best!


Nice views of a Grey Wagtail too!



Early afternoon I walked south along the Gipping Valley to Pipps Ford where I met Moysie and we had a nice flight view of the now resident Great White Egret with six Little Egrets (thanks Ben!).
Back at Hawks Mill I checked the streams and the Dipper was now present a little further away downstream from the bridge where it roosts. With the rain setting in I decided to call it a day and saw a Goosander on the way home.

The last Black-bellied Dipper I saw was one in Thetford in early February 2013 (pictured below), which was later joined by a second individual. Very nice birds.




Cliff Swallow - it's just a bird,..

Max.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Siberian Accentor - MEGA

Another week, another twitch in East Yorkshire...

This bird needs no introduction...
Just after 3pm on Thursday afternoon I was notified that Britain's second ever Siberian Accentor had been found in East Yorkshire, sending me into an instant spiral of twitcher's panic. Luckily within half an hour of the news breaking I'd sorted a lift for the next day. With overcast conditions throughout the night I was hopeful that the bird would still be there in the morning, but that still didn't do too much to calm my anxiety.

Siberian Accentor
Siberian Accentor
After last week's individual on Shetland, which was the UK's first record, found on the 9th and stayed until the next day, I spent the rest of the week being very gripped, and dreaming of another individual turning up, preferably on the mainland...
I awoke shortly before 2am on Friday morning, got picked up at 2.15, and we subsequently began the journey northwards, ensuring that we were on site for first light.
We arrived at Easington at 6.40am, and although I expected quite a few birders to be on site already, it was a bit of a surprise to find around 400 people lurking around the bushes on Vicar's Lane in the pre-dawn murkiness. At about 7.15, the call went out that the bird was visible (it was still dark), and the excessive stampede of tick-hungry twitchers ploughed forth. A few seconds later and I was watching it perched on the skip, until it flew into the skip, then went on to the ground to feed. Surprisingly, the bird seemed pretty unfazed to all of the madness, pushing and running going on and continued to perform in the half-light. I was extraordinarily happy that it had stayed the night!






Spurn Bird Observatory volunteers did a very good job of efficiently organising the twitch and directed all twitchers into an ever-increasing queue. A few hundred birders were in the queue at any one time, and queuing time was about 20 minutes coupled with a few minutes of viewing the bird. The accentor was constantly on show, sometimes feeding with Dunnocks, so everyone who had queued was able to get good views of it. If visiting Spurn, please follow on-site directions from volunteers and parking instructions, which can be found here as well as recent sightings: www.spurnbirdobservatory.co.uk/sightings/.



Siberian Accentors in the Western Palearctic this Autumn...

Siberian Accentor is a species which breeds predominantly across Russia and in parts of Mongolia and China, and winters in parts of China, North Korea, and South Korea. The past two weeks have seen an unprecedented influx of the species into northwestern Europe (excluding Russia) with apparently just over 50 individuals discovered in the past 13 days (04 October - 16 October 2016), with 12 new individuals discovered today (16 October) alone. As of today there has now been 4 British records of the species, with one found in Cleveland yesterday and another in Durham today. A map of sightings can be found here: www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1UutKHaVv9lKD-n4inPghjM0carw.




After about 9.30, the queue was fairly non-existent, and the accentor was still on show giving very close views in slightly better light. We moved on to Kilnsea, and on the way here I picked out a Woodcock flying past, seen from the car. We headed just past the Bluebell Cafe, where a confiding Shorelark was frivolously frolicking in the grass.

Shorelark  - my fourth this year
Shorelark
Shorelark
As I was watching the Shorelark, I was interrupted by a tweet notification from Spurn Bird Obs to say that a Dusky Warbler had been caught and ringed, and would be shown at Church Field in fifteen minutes. A quick sprint back and I was in Church Field, where I was joined by around 200-300 other birders waiting to see the bird. Due to the number of people wanting to see it, close views weren't obtained and it was subsequently released.

Dusky Warbler


We started walking back to Bluebell, when a second Woodcock flew past, and another birder informed us that an Olive-backed Pipit had been seen in the long grass near the Shorelark. Another quick sprint and I joined the crowd of birders looking for the OBP. Whilst waiting, a gaggle of White-fronted Geese flew over, calling.

Migrating White-fronted Geese


After about 15 minutes, the OBP was seen and took flight, calling once. I only had brief flight views but it was still good to see!

Olive-backed Pipit - photography at its best
The area was pretty much heaving with masses of migrant Goldcrests, thrushes, and Robins.

Migrant Fieldfares and Redwings
I had another quick look at the Shorelark before briefly checking two churchyards for previously reported Pallas's Warbler and Rose-coloured Starling, of which there was no sign. We also briefly stopped off at Canal Scrape, where a single Jack Snipe was bobbing in the cut reeds.
After this, we went back to Vicar's Lane, Easington, to have another look at the Siberian Accentor. The crowds here had massively reduced and there was no queue. The accentor was still constantly on show, and performed amazingly.






Within a few minutes of arriving here, the accentor hopped even closer and spent a few minutes tossing leaves around, c. two metres in front of me.

Not a good photo, but it's uncropped
Not a good photo, but it's unedited and uncropped just to show how close the bird was
A nice photo of  a Dunnock


Incredible views and quite possibly one of the best birds I've ever seen!
We left here at about 12:30 and began the journey home.

Spurn - it's a right place.

Max.