Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Eastern Invasion Finally Reaches The Patch

Thought I was going to have to wait a bit longer for Yellow-browed Warbler to get on my patch year list - but I was pretty confident I was going to get one at some point this autumn considering the monster influx up north a week or two back.

I basically spend all of October and Novemember every year looking for Long-tailed Tit flocks - so I was pleased to hear some as soon as I got out of the car at Lower Bruckland Ponds this afternoon. With so many leaves still on the trees at the moment it's not easy checking tit flocks, so I decided to go in under the trees and look up.  Within a few minutes I got my prize, as a Yellow-browed Warbler popped out literally a few feet in front of me!! Sweeeet.  Better still, as I was watching it, another called from just above and behind me about four or five times!  I fumbled around trying to get some pics, but soon the whole flock moved off and across the pond.  About 15 mins later I had brief and distant views of one again, and heard more calls as the tit flock disappeared south away from the ponds.  Sadly no one else connected, but Dave H heard one a few hours later. The weather was pretty lousy though.

These Yelllow-broweds are our earliest ever, by a day, and represent the eighth and ninth for the patch. The last one I saw here was on 30th Oct 2007 - the two since (both at Beer Head, one in 2010 and one in 2011) were seen only by their finders.

This is the best pic I managed of the bird I saw. Look at that stonking 'super', and you can just see a wing bar... 

You eastern beauty!

Although this photo is pretty rubbish, all the other photos looked like the below, so I'm glad it decided to turn its head...

A Yellow-broweds arse!

There was clearly a bit of a warbler influx today, an early morning sprint around the valley showed 15+ Chiffchaff, and there were at least five at Lower Bruckland Ponds. Other than this, a few Wheatears and Yellow Wags, and my first autumn Stonechat today, migrant passerines haven't exactly been abundant or surprising over the last week. It's been all about wading birds.

Last Friday, a Little Stint and a Ruff appeared on Black Hole Marsh. There's now four Ruff on Black Hole Marsh, and a cracking juv Spotted Redshank which has been around since Saturday. It was quite flighty and vocal today, although looked quite settled on Colyford Marsh scrape this afternoon.  Dunlin numbers have been pretty stable throughout with 20-30, but Bar-tailed Godwit numbers seem to be ever-increasing with an impressive 11 on the Estuary yesterday! Wildfowl numbers have also increased dramatically recently, with a juv Pintail last Thursday and five Shoveler on Monday being notable. Still hoping for a Pochard!

I have been keeping an eye on the gulls too. There's not been that many to look at sadly, but amongst them yesterday was another one of those 'presumed' Lesser Black-backedxHerring Gull hybrids...

Not quite a Yellow-legged Gull

Washed out yellow legs, short wings and legs, smallish head and bill, overall small(ish) size, head streaking, wing tip pattern and mantle colour all give aways that it's not the 'real McCoy'.

I've been disappointed by the sea, although tomorrow looks like it might be worth a look.  The best I managed was yesterday morning when easterly gull passage included my first Med for several weeks (an adult), a Common and 11 Black-heads, plus two Sandwich Terns. Birds flying west included two Teal and two Common Scoter.

That's all the birdie stuff dealt with, but before I sign off I must mention that since the last post I've added an extra year to my age. Birthday means birthday cake - and when your fiancee is a professional cake maker this is what you get...

They tasted as good as they look!

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