Too close to resist, so off to Oldbury-on-Severn to try for the Pied Wheatear. Turned out to be a most pleasant twitch! One could almost say textbook.
Place found easily, then a rather nice stroll down to the sailing club where the bird was immediately performing well in the sunshine, flycatching etc all watched on by a small group of very civilised and good mannered fellow twitchers! Rounded off with a bit of chit chat with a few old friends. Smashing!!
Four straight visits to Portland from 13th - 16th proved to be a rather frustrating experience.
First day probably one of the worst experiences. Had done a fair bit of kicking around the top fields a few Redpoll and Brambling over + Snipe and a Woodlark. I had just sat down for a few minutes when I heard this rather short sharp call. Couldnt really place it straight away but then a pipit flew past but as the call didnt seem that Pipit like really, I thought it wasnt the source of the noise but then to my amazement there were more calls which followed the bird! Shit I thought, this has to be a Pechora!
I sprinted after the bird which did go down. A few phonecalls and lots of searching however produced nothing.
Later did have a flock of 8 Wood Lark which came in from the southwest and landed in Helens Field
Completely shite photos of some of the Wood Larks ( the top two are taken from the same photo as bottom left and so are even more out of focus!)
The next flutter of excitement came the next day when a local birder with a couple of friends flushed a Locustella with a "whirring flight and seemingly shortish tail" On arrival a few more of us saw the bird in flight also and it did look very interesting indeed.
A net was set up and after a couple of near misses the bird finally hit the net. Martin quickly sprinted over to it (never seen him move so fast before!)
We waited in eager anticipation but alas it was only a Gropper
The 15th started with 5 Eider past the Bill and a few more Redpolls and Reed Buntings over
Went to Avalanche road hump which was very quiet. Most interesting things there were a load of Harlequin Ladybirds
There was another small rush when another local birder had seen an odd bird, the description kind of changed about a bit but it was "noticably bigger than a nearby Blackcap, sort of straw coloured with white outer tail feathers"!We didnt have a clue what he saw but it sounded pretty interesting. Anyway despite searching nothing was seen. Not sure what is happening to the text by the way, cant seem to change it.
A couple of local herberts looking for the mystery bird
The last rush was when the pagers alerted us to a Short-toed Eagle that was seen heading east from Exmouth. This turned into panic when the next message said that it was heading east from Lyme Regis! I didnt really know where to try and get to but plumped for West Bexington where I met JD and Dave Foot who had been there all the time and had not seen it come their way.
After another hour of waiting we finally had to admit defeat
16th. A fair few Short-eared Owls about. In a walk along the east cliffs then back through top fields saw at least 6 birds with at least 2 leaving out to sea
Overnight stay near Woodbridge, Suffolk saw to it that I was well placed to go for the Sandhill Crane if it was still there the next morning. Which it was.
Spent most of its time in this ploughed field before being flushed by a farmer
It then landed about a mile up the coast. Luckily it was big enough to be quickly refound with views being slightly closer this time until it was flushed again by a couple of twats thinking they were invisible. Not before we heard giving a throaty calls though.
Popped into Covenham reservoir on the way back south.
After some scanning a likely candidate was picked up, typically at the opposing corner of the quite sizeable reservoir. As I walked around it didnt seem to be getting any closer, it was also working its way around the reservoir at the same pace I was! Eventually after probably walking two thirds of the way round I eventually caught up with it.
Fortunately it was feeding quite close in but unfortunately the light was starting to go and the sun was low and now directly opposite.
From a distance it did appear generally darker than a typical niger and as one got nearer features to confirm its identity could be gleaned.
One of the most talked about features is the grey flanks which should be white in niger. Another feature that can be seen here are the greyish underwing coverts which are usually clean white in niger
Breast patch larger than niger, merging into flanks
Rump dark grey as opposed to a more mid grey.
On niger a black crown would extend to a black nape but on this bird the crown is grey and the nape is white. Upperwings of surinamensis are a fair bit darker.
Underwings look quite white in this shot but the dark flanks still obvious
Juv Common Tern
Light really going now but why not get another photo of a Greenland type Wheatear