Thursday, 8 September 2011

Wryneck, Doncaster, South Yorkshire – Wednesday 7th September 2011

I’d never seen a Wryneck before, so that was stimulus enough to go and see the bird reported at Lakeside, Doncaster, South Yorkshire yesterday. The fact that I’d dipped Wryneck a couple of times before, and in particularly annoying circumstances, meant I was determined to make the trip.

I had the motive, means and opportunity: my wife didn’t need the car, my friend was “working from home” and wanted to come too, and I’d planned leave work early anyway - to go a look for a new pair of binoculars. So, all I needed was for the bird to show…

At 17:45 we arrived on site – at the top of a man-made hill made of extracted soil from the adjacent man-made lake – to join 15 or so other birders. The bird was apparently in the scrub in a small plantation of maybe ten trees on the leeward side of this hill, and viewing was from the path above We learnt that the bird had shown less that 30 minutes earlier. It had been flushed by a jogger, but had shown well at times. Promising.

Unfortunately, it didn’t show soon, and most of the assembled birders, maybe 20+, decided to call it a day by 19:00. In fading light around 19:15 both Secret Twitcher and my friend noticed a small brown bird drop in around the base of a tree. Five pairs of eyes searched the small area for some 20 minutes. Eventually, in the murky twilight, I spotted a movement in the grass.

At first glance it looked like it might be a small rodent, or maybe even a lizard, but the grass just seemed to be writhing. I called the others over. I could just make out a dark jagged pattern, like an exotic snake’s markings, which twisted and bent. Then the bird flicked its longish tail and looked up, seemingly right at me (its eye seemed bigger and bolder than shown in the books), and I knew it was definitely a Wryneck (Jinx torquila).

Well, that’s what I call cryptic plumage. Lovely shades of light and dark brown with greys and yellows, looking just like drying grass, sandy soil, and fallen leaves. There’s every chance that several of us had seen it earlier, and the bird had just faded into the background. I kept losing it while staring right at it. It had been reported for the first time earlier that day, but could easily have remained hidden for days.

It was smaller than I’d imagined it would be, but then I didn’t see it out in the open. It’s a shame we didn’t get better views, but as it was a lifer for most of us present, I think we were all happy to see it t all. With the trips to the east coast I have planned for this autumn, there’s a decent chance I’ll get to see another this year.

So that takes my British life list to 282, and my British 2011 year list to 199. I have a boat trip around Flamborough Head booked for this Saturday, followed by another day at Spurn, so a Sooty Shearwater or Common Rosefinch will do nicely to tip the year list over 200…

No comments:

Post a Comment