Monday, 24 February 2014

Red-flanked Bluetail

Now this is a bird I would like to see on Beer Head!

I'm not that deluded though, it will probably never happen. So with a twitchable bird over-wintering in the Shire Valley, South Gloucester, I just had to pay it a visit (especially now the crowds have hopefully died down!). And my twitching companion for the day? I'm pleased to say, my Dad.  For years and years when I was a teen, every weekend he'd take me out birding, so it's about time I began repaying him...

We left Seaton at 6am, and at 7:45 parked up at the suggested spot, with no one else around. After a quick coffee and foot wear change, we headed off...

Across the field towards that muddy track, which winds away between the trees...

Through the gateway...

To where the stream meets the path. We're here!

It was still a bit gloomy, and began raining, but after about 15 minutes I spied exactly this...


This is pretty much where it stayed for the next hour and a half. And it was view for the whole entire time, clearly favouring the first group of small trees to the left of the path after walking through the above gateway...

As you can see they are right next to the path, so it showed at point blank range! What a superb little bird, and it's easy to see why it is proving so popular with photographers.  Of course I can't match their standards, but this post wouldn't be complete without a few pics from my Lumix...

It spent quite a bit of time singing to itself - what a treat!

Wish my bloody camera had actually focused on the bird!

At least it did this time!

Just to show the white throat, which it showed off here as it fed on its favoured lump of grass.

Although I'm not that proud of my photographs, I am pleased with the videos...

I really like the chat family as it is. There's nothing like seeing a migrant Redstart flicking about in spring or autumn, or a Black Red feeding on a barren beach. Even Robin's are cool! So this bird rates really VERY high on my list of all time best birds.  An absolute cracker that I recommend to any and everyone!

We finally tore ourselves away from this little stunner at 11, and after returning to the car drove for about four minutes before stopping again.

Living and birding in Devon means we don't see Corn Buntings. I appreciate that for many blog readers this may appear a total over reaction, but bloody hell!!!! We saw over 100 Corn Buntings whilst stood in one spot! There were at least 110, but probably way more than that with birds visible in the distance in all directions. Flocks of 40, 30, 15, several singing males - it was Corn Bunting porn! Throw in several ten's of Yellowhammers and Skylarks in full song, it felt like we were in 1940 Britain!  Proper farm land birding.

Our third stop of the day was less successful, the Tree Sparrows just wouldn't play ball.  We heard them almost constantly, and had a few brief glimpses, but that was it. Two hours later we gave up and headed home. 

I won't lie, I'm bloody knackered, but it was well worth it! Thank you South Gloucester, and in particular the finder of the eastern blue-tailed beauty.


  1. Great report! Lovely videos showing off their start behaviour. I would probably go and check it iut but I can't really afford an 8 hour round trip!

  2. Hi Lou, many many thanks for the kind comment. It really was superb to watch, it's a bird with real character. Must be something to do with the family, as Robin's are much the same! 8 hours is quite a journey though yes, maybe just watch my videos a few more times :-)

  3. Thanks for the pictorial guide Steve, this helped me a lot today! Fantastic bird.

    1. My pleasure mate! Always going to do all twitch related posts like this now as it can really help others

  4. One of my favourites too! I might have to go back again. Those corn buntings reminded me of our Scottish trip. Hope things are good. Nick

    1. Pick Nage! How are you mate? Funny you should mention Scotland, Bun sent me a photo today of a Caper he saw this morning (he's twitching the Coot) which attacked him! Want to go back there so much. You coming down this way at all soon bud? Be good to meet up.

  5. John O'Sullivan2 March 2014 at 17:11

    Hi Steve,

    followed your superb photo directions to the RFBT. That's the way I like to twitch. 5 minutes from car to the exact spot the bird favours followed by bird. That's the way I think all directions should be posted from now on.


  6. Hi John, thanks for taking the time to comment. I'll certainly continue to construct any twitch-posts this way.... whenever the next one is....