Thursday, 20 October 2016

Siberian Accentor at Easington, East Yorkshire

Some of you may have read about this bird in the press. Never seen before in the U.K., up until a few weeks ago when one turned up on Shetland. That particular bird was out of my league, the serious twitchers went for it and for a couple of days it entertained. It then disappeared. For those people that saw the bird feelings of elation ensued, imagining that they had seen a once in a lifetime bird. Those feelings changed somewhat a week ago when another turned up on the East Yorkshire coast near Spurn point at the village of Easington. A massive twitch ensued, thousands of birders queued to get a glimpse of this rare bird from the East. Due to other commitments, I couldn't go and so had to put up with images all over the internet of this cousin of 'our' common Dunnock and people who say that they aren't twitchers and can't abide twitching, actually twitching.

Tuesday dawned wet and miserable. One customer cancelled me due to the weather, then another. Suddenly a day had opened up and the bird was still present, I had to go for it. My friend and usual partner in crime Chris Orders was unfortunately unavailable and so I rang anther friend Mike Weedon, who agreed to accompany me, even though he had already been on Saturday, such was the draw of this 'painted' Dunnock. We made good time, arriving at lunch time and made our way to the birds' haunt. Now, up until that afternoon the bird had been frequenting an old school car park, with an open vista and unobstructed views, but of course when I turned up the bird had moved. Instead of clear views over a chain link fence the bird had to be watched through a rather tall double metal fence with inch square holes in between thick wire, not ideal. 'Sibby' was seen, however and showed very well, constantly on the move and more often obscured by weeds and sycamore saplings than not.

As of today this particular Siberian Accentor seems to have moved on, but the U.K. now has at least 6 of these birds on its' record books and more are piling up on the not so distant continent. So, if you see an odd looking Dunnock in your garden, particularly if you live in the East of the country, you never know, it just could be one these birds.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Curlew Sandpipers at Frampton Marsh RSPB, Lincolnshire

A few weeks ago there were over 250 of these lovely waders at nearby Frampton Marsh. There are normally a few of these birds that turn up at various sites around the east every year, including Frampton, but I can't remember ever hearing of 250+. A real jewel in the RSPB, this site seems to be only watched by the locals and doesn't attract the numbers that Titchwell and Minsmere do, for whatever reason.

Josh Jones has written a very good article on Frampton Marsh, which can be found here.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Spoonbill at Alkborough Flats, Lincolnshire

You can just make out the yellow patch on the birds' throat. I think that this is the remnants of breeding plumage

This adult Spoonbill was the only photographed bird yesterday on my twitch to see the Western Swamphen that has been frequenting the reed beds and marshes of Alkborough Flats in north Lincolnshire for the past couple of weeks. 'Swampy' was seen, after 6 hours on site, but at a distance of over half a mile and so photography was not an option. It made a nice change to see a Spoonbill without its' head tucked firmly under its' wing and therefore to see its' spatula shaped bill, or should that be spoon-shaped?

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Willow Emerald Damselfly at Kings Dyke NR, Cambridgeshire

Note the obvious 'spur' marking on the thorax. A key feature of this species

You can just about make out the pale wing spots, or pterostigma, another key feature

A damselfly with very few 20th century records in the U.K., but first seen in regular numbers in Suffolk in 2009. This species has been steadily moving eastwards over the past few years and has now been sighted in the Peterborough area on at least two occasions, one of which being the sighting that I had at Kings Dyke nature reserve a few weeks ago.

Not being a dragonfly of damselfly expert, I quite happily took the above photos without realising the importance of the sighting, or what species I was actually photographing. I knew it was an emerald type damselfly because of the colour of the individual, but it wasn't until I looked at the photos in greater detail and cross referencing with my dragonfly field guide, that I realised the individual was a Willow Emerald Damselfly (I think a female). A new species for the reserve and only the second in the Peterborough area, with the first being a week previous to mine.