Monday, 31 October 2011

October 2011

In all honesty, I did very little birding this month, no thanks to a near continuous run of uni work. A group of us, from my course are planning an expedition as part of our module to film some of Europe's large carnivores ie Bears etc in the Carpathian Mountains in Romania next spring, as well as doing our bit for charity and drawing awareness to prostate cancer after a team member was diagnosed with it in 2010. Feel free to browse our blog to find out more:
I did however end up on a few pretty good twitches this month.

On heading North from visiting Emma in Sheffield (4th), I couldn't resist pulling into Humblesclough Farm, Lancashire to see my third Solitary Sandpiper in two years. Not as good as the bird on Scilly a couple of week previously but it showed all the necessary features in my relatively short stay.

By the 8th, I was in Ireland again with Dan Pointon, Mark and Ashley Powell for the juv Semipalmated Plover. With help from Rich Bonser it was soon picked out and showed reasonably well in hideous weather. The flock dispersed and we lost the bird, a couple of laps of the beach failed to relocate it until we found it in the same area as before. Of course it didn't settle and flew off down the beach again...another search for it was pointless with dogs running up and down the beach flushing everything in sight!! I was quite surprised at how different this bird actually looked compared to normal Ringo's. Noticeably smaller with a very narrow (unbroken) breast band, obvious pale fringes to the coverts which was the most obvious feature to pick it out amongst adult Ringed Plovers. Good scope views allowed us to see the more subtle features and even the semi-palmations in the feet. Further confirmation came when it flew off calling like a 'distant Spotted Redshank'. The rest of the day was spent at Rossbeigh trying to relocate the possible Western Sand from the previous day to no avail.

The following weekend (15th) the unexpected arrival of a Rufous-tailed Robin in Norfolk would have caused abit of excitement had it decided to stay but as expected - no sign. These sibes are getting easier so I'm sure I'll see one of these boring brown jobs in the next 10 years... Trying to avoid the crowds myself and Olly Metcalfe went to Wells to try and find our own interesting birds. The best I could muster up were two flyby Richard's Pipits heading east along the beach. A reasonable finch movement included 20+ Crossbill, Redpolls and Brambling. A Yellow-browed Warbler was by the boating lake but very elusive. To lift me from my miserable mood and rescue the day it required heading further south to Lowestoft for an elusive Olive-backed Pipit that eventually showed well just before we were going to give up!! Surprisingly this is the first rare pipit I have seen - so hopefully this will open the flood gates for more in the near future.

The last twitch of the month (20-22nd) was spanned over three days...teaming up with Martin Davies and Mark Rayment we made it to Aberdeen for the lumpy overnight crossing to Lerwick; sleeping rough of course. We unnecessarily hired a car to get to Gulberwick and joined the dozen strong crowd for the Siberian Rubythroat, waiting at the gate looking to the far end of the driveway. The bird played ball for the first hour, showing occasionally but then went missing for 2.5 hours before appearing randomly for the next 4 hours. I'm assuming its been aged as a 1st winter because of the pale fringes to the coverts which are visible in the images - though i didn't note this at the range I saw the bird in field where it simply looked like a pristine adult male! And so another fantastic autumn for myself comes to an end :-(

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