Sunday, 19 May 2013

Dusky Thrush!!

A simple note to myself for further reference. Always check the bird news services before setting off.

Luckily Brian had done just that, and with our original destination being Reculver, it's a simple detour towards Margate Cemetery. After a short drive up and down Manston Road we realise that Manston Road actually splits into three!
Back on the right road and heading up hill, we spot a line of parked cars. Arriving at 7am and walking along the footpath towards the cemetery gates, we spot a few familiar faces on the other side of the wall.
A simple question is asked. "Is it showing?", The answer is a quick point towards a bare tree between two conifers.
Bins trained on a distant bird shape, and I'm looking at a Dusky Thrush!! A little Siberian beauty. Before entering the cemetery I've seen the bird and even managed to set the scope set up for a closer look.
The bird takes flight and we head for the cemetery gates. 
We arrived at 7am, but many birders just couldn't wait and had arrived before 5am, with reports that some birders had even tried searching for the bird in the dark.
Having seen the bird and already had decent views, we could take it easy and wait for the bird to reappear. Which it does shortly afterwards, Perched right at the top of another bare tree giving even better views than before.
Only 9 previously accepted records for the UK, with the last "twitchable" bird being way back in 1959. So given that it was 54 years ago, this bird was going to bring out the birders in force. It did, with 250-300 birders already present. We stayed for 2-3 hours, in that time well over a thousand birders had arrived and departed.

Dusky thrush (B Anderson)

From here it's a short drive to Reculver, parking in the pay and display car park at the foot of Reculver Towers.
Heading up the hill and towards the caravan park, stopping at the top of the hill the Monties is spotted straight away.
Keen to get better views, it's off along the sea wall and through the gate along the grass banks past the oyster beds.
At the far end we bump into local patch worker Marc Heath. We spend the next couple of hours in his company. In this time the Monties is seen hunting low along the railway tracks, and although distant at first it quarter the fields regularly and gets closer and closer. At times it is seen down to within c50 metres.
A stunning bird and one I have long been eager to see.

Montagu's harrier (B Anderson)

While it hunts along a narrow strip of overgrown grass, it disturbs a Short-eared owl. The owl heads away from the harrier and starts to hunt along the far edge giving super views. Especially to Brian who had earlier set himself down among the taller grass and was almost invisible to us.

News of the Red-backed Shrike having been re-found, has us heading off along the grass banks towards the railway tracks.
Although most of the birders confirmed that they had seen the shrike, we failed to find the bird. Despite a couple of hours search with 15-20 other birders.
The shrike would be found again near Chambers Wall later that evening, but by this time I would already be back at home.

A much needed stop off at the local cafe, and it's time to end for home. On route news of a Cattle Egret  at Shorne marshes comes up on the pager. The location on the pager proved less than helpful. With the A-Z in hand more news comes through to park at Canal Road and follow the cycle path for 2 miles to view the bird.
A scan of the surrounding fields and there's the Cattle Egret, not surprisingly among some cattle.
Having missed a Cattle Egret on a few occasions this year at Grove ferry it was finally good to catch up with one here.

A cracking days birding.

It's not everyday you go out birding and see a Dusky thrush. In fact given the records and the history of twitchable birds that have landed in the UK, it will most likely be the only Dusky thrush that I see in my lifetime.

It will be long remembered.


  1. Dusky Thrush, Cattle Egret, Montagu's Harrier! Someone had a good weekend!!!


  2. You could say that Adam :D
    A Dusky thrush was always going to attract a very large crowd.
    The vast majority were very well behaved as is the norm.
    But I did witness a few who seemed to forget where they were, and paid no attention to where they were walking, standing or indeed sitting.