Saturday, 1 November 2014

October Ends In Style

What a few days!!!  I'll start with Thursday...

Another day, another dog walk, and another Yellow-browed Warbler (or two?).  At Lower Brucklands Ponds late morning one of the first birds I looked at in a Tit flock around the top pond was a Yellow-browed Warbler - nice!  With so much movement, and so much cover, it was hard to keep tabs on it, but for a while every time I lifted my bins there was a Yellow-browed Warbler looking at me! There was one Chiff in the flock, and I saw that three times, but I must have seen the Yellow-browed(s?) about ten times!  Only heard Yellow-browed call twice, but I'm pretty sure there were two birds (and who knows, maybe more?) in there. Annoying really as I'd liked to have confirmed it if there were more than one, but never mind.  Lower Bruckland really is the local hot spot for this species, almost half of the patch records have come from here.

Soon after I got home I had a phone call from Gav, he was listening to a Yellow-browed in Axmouth just down the road from where last Saturday's bird was - so presumably the same one?  Great that someone else managed to connect with it.

Thursday night was incredible - without doubt one of the best nocturnal migrations I have ever witnessed over Seaton.  Redwing and Song Thrush calls were constant, some sounded so low and there were clearly some flocks involved too.  Just amazing.  Also heard a few Blackbirds and a Dunlin.  Love migration in action. Incredible. And it gave me a good feeling about Friday...

So Friday dawned, and at first it just produced some decent vis mig - Wood Pigeons, Stock Doves and Jackdaws in particular making the most of the clear skies - but there didn't appear to me many grounded migrants about.  I tried Branscombe (a very under watched site), Seaton Marshes and along the cycle track and Mare Lane in Beer (behind the Beer Cemetery Fields). Certainly thrushes weren't very evident so they all must have all flown straight over during the previous night. Turns out I was just in the wrong place....

Seaton Hole has been heaving with birds over the last week, I've seen the Firecrest there daily, but Friday was the first day I didn't go there this week. Ian M and Ian P (looking for the Firecrest) did and found a fantastic patch first - some would say an overdue one, but in my opinion not so, as they seem to turn up only at their favoured haunts year in year out. A lovely first-winter Red-breasted Flycatcher...



Although it was first found in the open on an isolated tree, it spent most of its time high in the conifer plantation on the left hand side of the road. As it was always high up my photos are not too good, but it was a great bird to watch.  And now I realise why they are only seen at their traditional stop over sites....because they are so hard to spot!  It would often sit motionless for several minutes, and could SO easily be walked past by even the sharpest birder.  It didn't call once, and if this bird was another 10 metres deeper into the wood no one would ever have known it was there.  The next photo should show you all what I mean, and bear in mind this was at the very top of the trees.... Can you see it?



I actually now think the only reason RB Flies appear to be so site faithful, is because they aren't looked for deep in random woods across the UK, which is where many of them probably are.  They like big trees and they like being at the top of them!

I really am chuffed to be able to add this bird to my patch list (my 253rd bird on patch). Although I think we've had them in the past, and am certain we will have more in the future, I think the chances of another actually being found is slim. So it's a good job this bird hung around for the rest of the day for all the locals to see.
Whilst watching this bird, saw a Firecrest and had a massive surprise when this Willow Warbler appeared in front of us!  My latest ever, just such a shame that when it came close enough to be photographed there was a bloody great bramble in the way....



Quite a pale bird, although it did had some yellow tones around the throat and neck.  Have to say when I first saw it head on and could just see a pale belly, striking supercilium and pink-based bill, I was half expecting to see wing bars when it turned around! Sadly not.

This morning I spent a couple hours kicking the stubble fields at Axe Cliff.  Lots of Linnets and Skylarks as is always the case up here in the autumn, but apart from four Stonechat no evidence of much else grounded.  Overhead there seemed to be lots on the move, plenty of Pigeons again and finches along with my first Golden Plover of the autumn.  The Raven population certainly seems to be thriving up here...


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