I was keen to get to Axe Yacht Club today due to the ever increasing numbers of Black Redstarts collecting here, I had three yesterday on the houses of Trevelyan Road and Ian Mc reported four this morning.
Gladly I did manage to squeeze in a visit early this afternoon, and saw at least five first-winter Black Reds, although there could have been as many as seven present. One of them was clearly a male showing black around the face and upper breast, a darker mantle, but lacking the white wing panels of an adult. Mike did see an adult male here half an hour before my arrival, and with Kev's three in Beer this afternoon that makes for an impressive patch day count. It really is proving a top autumn for this species.
Amazingly though, even though it's November and I was stood on a beach in the middle of a load of boats, this wasn't the only species of Redstart present...
|A female Common Redstart!|
I really was not expecting this!
When a redstart flicked up onto a boat parked up right next to me, I was completely stunned to raise my bins and see exactly just that...a Redstart! A Common Redstart. Thoughts of Eastern Black Redstart crept in briefly, as it took me a few views to confirm it's sex as some angles seemed to suggest it had a dark throat and orange breast. When it showed better however I just imagined I was stood on Beer Head in early September looking into a bush... yup that's a female Common Redstart...
|Showed really well at times|
|Maybe it thought it was hitching a lift!?|
When feeding among the boats it behaved just like all the Black Redstarts around. But did differ in that its darker relatives would often fly up to the roofs of the houses along Trevelyan Road, whereas the Common didn't do that once. Despite some really close views, it often proved quite elusive - frequently dropping down below the boats and not showing for several minutes at a time.
|Not the usual Common Redstart-habbo!|
This is my first ever November Common Redstart, and of course the late date could well suggest she's originated from somewhere further east than our usual passage Redstarts. But unless she stays for a few days and I manage to somehow collect a DNA sample, we will never know where she's come from or what race she belongs too.
The only other birding time I've managed today was the first hour of light which I spent hunting down Long-tailed Tit flocks with a Pallas's prize in mind. I couldn't even dig out a Yellow-browed or a Firecrest for my troubles, in fact if things don't change soon this will prove my first Yellow-browed-less autumn on patch since 2012!