Masked Wagtail, Choughs, and an Eastern Black Redstart

11 December 2016.

A rather early start on a Sunday morning, I met Paul and John at 4am for a twitch, this time Pembrokeshire's star performer of the season - the wintering Masked Wagtail (Motacilla alba personata) at Camrose. Surprisingly this bird hasn't been seen since around Christmas so I'm glad we went for it when we did! After around 5 hours on the road we were at Camrose and were soon watching this stunning wagtail.

After some great views of this first for Britain, we headed to Martin's Haven to see some Chough and were successful quickly after arrival, with a group of seven showing well by the car park.

After a while searching but failing to find a Lapland Bunting (however a Merlin was nice to see) we received the news of an Eastern Black Redstart in a Gloucestershire churchyard. This wasn't a major issue for Paul as he had seen one earlier in the week on the way back from Shetland, however myself and John had never seen one. We had two options - ignore it and go home as planned without diverting, or attempt to get there knowing that we would arrive around dusk...
After 3 1/2 hours of ploughing across the county from the SW tip of Wales, we found ourselves in the grounds of Tewkesbury Abbey as it started to get dark. The bird was not instantly on show, with people saying it hadn't been seen for about 40 minutes having been performing practically constantly throughout the afternoon. We walked around the abbey grounds, and waited for 10 minutes. And another 10 minutes... And another 10 minutes... The sun had now set and we weren't hopeful. It was practically dark when, at 16:14, I noticed some movement on the abbey roof, a bird that was obviously orange had just flicked into view. It then came into view properly and after checking that I wasn't stringing a Robin, everyone got onto the Eastern Black Redstart as it ascended the abbey tower and disappeared over the top (never to be seen again)... We were all now majorly relieved, the risk had payed off - the joys of twitching!

A great day, many thanks to Paul and John for the lift.

Happy birding,