Saturday, 8 October 2016

Tough Luck

I like to think I am an upbeat and positive chap but I've spent more time than ever out on patch this autumn, walked further than ever, with better optics, yet have seen/found less rare or scarce birds than any previous autumn! As a result I'm starting to feel a bit like this...



I am trying my hardest to work though it, heading out the door at dawn every morning to go birding, and I know all birders go through lean times - this though is without doubt my worst.  Usually it's quite a simple formula, the more time spent in the field the more you see and the more times you 'get lucky'. Sadly this is far from the truth for me at the moment.

Let's take Yellow-browed Warblers for example. I have always had good fortune when it comes to finding striped phylloscs on patch, I've found nine Yellow-broweds here, along with the only patch records of Pallas's and Hume's - but I cannot for the life of me find one this year!  They are everywhere else, and I have seen so so many Chiffchaffs and tit flocks. But not one stripe. Thankfully there's still plenty of time for this to change.

As for Great White Egrets, given that there has been an irruption (as apposed to an influx) recently, I have been expecting to bump into one or two at some point during last week. My birding week finished at 2pm on Friday as I was working at 3pm, and I had checked the valley probably 10-15 times during the week. Just after 5pm Friday 'Twilight Tim' wanders down to Black Hole and low and behold there's a Great White Egret flying around!

I really could go on (like how I've been at Black Hole Marsh 3-4 dawns per week all September hoping for a Crake or yank wader - or failing on Ortolan and Wryneck finding all Sept) but I wont. So let me talk about what I have managed to see.

Well yesterday, as well as 26 Chiffchaffs spread out everywhere, 15 mins in the Tower Hide early afternoon showed my first Med Gull (an ad) for over a month, a first-winter Common Gull, a female Pintail, the lingering Grey Plover and three Ringed Plover.  

Today, four Redwing were the best Lower Bruckland Ponds had to offer, and Black Hole Marsh this afternoon showed a late Little Stint and two Pintail.  The Little Stint was interesting as late autumn birds aren't that regular here. I am used to seeing fresh juvs in Aug/Sept, but this bird was well into winter plumage so really pale looking. Overall size and shape, the pattern of the black on the lower scapulars and coverts, split supercillia and lack of webbing between the toes were all the features noted to confirm ID - not that any of those features (except for overall shape) are visible in this pic...



Don't worry though folks - I'll be out looking in the morning and let's just hope my next blog post is titled 'A Change In Fortune'...

4 comments:

  1. Hi Steve. Sounds like you have a nasty case of 'good patch' syndrome. It often rears its ugly head at this time of year. The problem is you bird a very good patch with a great track record of rarities. Consequently, lots of other birders look at it and now and again they find good birds and you are 'gripped'. Try doing what I do and watch a sh*t patch (Orcombe is cr*p in Devon terms but I'm aware it's probably considered quite good by land-locked birders). My birding expectations are set low. I've had way more bird droughts than purple patches so I feel your pain. Hang in there. Matt

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Matt. Thanks so much for the great comment, although I don't agree with the comparisons between our two patches. You have a brilliant one, and we are always envious of the fact that even on 'quiet' days you still have a few thousand wildfowl and god knows how many waders/gulls/terns to look at. Really admire the time and effort you put in on Orcombe and wow have you had some great birds. Hope you have a great autumn and thanks for your encouragement.

      Best wishes,

      Steve

      Delete
  2. You will always be in my fantasy dream birding team mate, Mr. Knott as well. I'd be lucky to make the subs bench. Sometimes I never find anything except dogs mess with the bottom of my Timberlands. Gotta keep looking, like Forrest Gump said, birdings like a box of chocolates, you never know whats in there until you pish that bush.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha. Hi Perry, and thanks so much for your comments. Passing on the County Recorder buck (to not sure who yet!) has certainly allowed me so much more time in the field.

      All the best and have a great autumn, hope you find more than dog turds!

      Steve

      Delete