Sunday 29 October 2017

Common Rock Thrush: Pwll-du, Gwent

An afternoon dash along the M4 on Saturday 20th proved to be very frustrating. Despite reports throughout the morning and continued reports on route, we arrived on site to learn that the bird had been flushed and had flown from it's favoured feeding area and was last seen disappearing into the valley opposite the quarry. Despite prolonged searches throughout the afternoon and into the early evening we headed back along the footpath in darkness without any sightings of the bird. 

Brian unable to sleep made the 360 mile round trip again on Sunday morning and after another search was rewarded when the bird made an appearance in the 3rd quarry.

I thought my chance of seeing this bird had gone, but Brian gave me another chance when he decided to make a third trip this morning!
After remembering the clocks were due to go back we left home at 4.30am and arrived three hours later to find plenty of cars already parked up. After a brisk mile-long walk along the edge of the quarry, we joined the assembled group of birders to find the Rock Thrush feeding on a grass bank just feet away!  

We enjoyed stunning views of the bird throughout our 5-hour visit. 

The Rock Thrush seemed to follow a routine of feeding among the short grass, then visiting an area where someone had left some mealworms and then returning to the rocks to rest up for short periods only to repeat the same routine a short time later albeit with a visit to one of the small puddles left by overnight rain.

So thanks to Brian making the trip for a third time, just the1080 miles! I finally managed to see this stunning bird.

Monday 9 October 2017

American Wigeon: Rutland Water, Leicestershire

Leaving at 5.30am this morning, with a plan to head Northward along the A1 and if the Scops Owl was found roosting we could continue up to Ryhope and view the bird.

Arriving at Rutland water nice and early, we headed off along the footpath towards Smew Hide. The hide looks out across Lagoon II, and the American Wigeon was quickly located feeding among a flock of Eurasian Wigeon.

American Wigeon

With no news on the Scops Owl, we decided to have a search for Willow Tits at a site we have had success with on previous occasions. On the walk down to the first hide, Brian and I heard a Willow Tit calling. Your best chance of seeing Willow tits here are when the feeders have been filled-up. While waiting we were entertained by a Kingfisher that landed on the posts at the water's edge. A Snipe emerged from the reeds and two Green Sandpipers dropped in.

The trees around the feeders are frequently used before the birds drop down to feed, plenty of birds were visiting. All the usual suspects were regularly seen including Great Tit, Blue Tit, Robin, Dunnock, Wren, Chaffinch and a stunning male Bullfinch made a brief appearance.

It took an hour and a half, but eventually, we were finally rewarded with a visit from a Willow Tit!

Willow Tit

Saturday 7 October 2017

Long-billed Dowitcher & Wilson's Phalarope in Kent

A little bonus trip this afternoon, and after braving the mid-day traffic we eventually arrived at Oare Marshes. Normally on our, dawn visits, there are very few cars and parking is easy. Today the place was packed!
Water levels had dropped considerably from our last visit and there were large numbers of birds taking advantage. Both the main target birds, Long-billed Dowitcher and Wilson's Phalarope were quickly found with both happily feeding in front of the viewing area on the West side along the entrance track. 

Alongside these two North American vagrants, there were plenty of supporting cast members with 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 3 Little Stint, 2 Ruff a single Greenshank and Water rail. Large flocks of roosting Dunlin, Golden Plover and Black-tailed Godwits were very obvious along with good numbers of Ringed Plover, Avocet, Redshank and Lapwing.