Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Eastern Black Redstart, Skinningrove, Cleveland - Sunday 30th October 2016

Eastern Black Redstart, Skinningrove, Cleveland- 30th October 2016

A few photos of the fabulous Eastern Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros phoenicuroides) from Skinningrove in Cleveland a few weeks ago. Yes, still catching up on the photos and blogs for some recent outings, and this bird is too good to leave out.

It was feeding among the rocks on the northern side of the jetty, occasionally disappearing behind the boulders for a 10 minutes at a time. An, active, bright, beautiful bird, almost constantly on the move. When stood still it wobbled its tail in classic Redstart style. It was frequently harassed by the Robins. but always returned to the same area. As I write (30th November 2016), it's still present at Skinningrove. Photos and video below...

Eastern Black Redstart, Skinningrove, Cleveland- 30th October 2016

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Siberian Accentor, Easington, East Yorkshire - Friday 14th October 2016

I've fallen behind on my blogging in the past month. I've been busy (birding, as well as working, living, etc), but still wanted to share this particular bird with you, even though it was over a month ago when I saw it. One of the already legendary Siberian Accentors of 2016...

Siberian Accentor, Easington, East Yorkshire - Friday 14th October 2016

You may have heard about the Siberian Accentor invasion this autumn; it's become the stuff of memes and t-shirts...

There were 32 records in Europe before this autumn, and none anywhere near the UK. But, the strong easterlies thought out late September and early October started to push Siberian birds this way, and Siberian Accentors started appearing in Scandinavia... Then one was found on 9th October on Shetland (where else?), and a big twitch was on. It only stayed two days, and no one knew for sure if that would be it. Until this one was found by Lance Degnan, next to a yellow skip on hard standing, by the gas terminal. That was on Thursday afternoon around 3pm, and I immediately started packing up to leave work, only to realise I had family commitments that evening. Sob. So, a dawn raid was on the cards...

I arrived well before dawn in Easington, around 06:10, and the place was already heaving with birders. Hundreds and hundreds, huddled under a street light on Vicars Lane. Despite this I managed to get a a decent spot at the front (all those years getting through crowds at gigs, eh?!), and we waited... Someone a few metres over to the left called out, and within a blink of a eye there was chaos, more like a mosh pit than a twitch!

And yes, there it was! In the half-light, picking around the moss on the old tarmac was a the little sprite. After things had settled down, and a queuing system was imposed by the great team from Spurn Bird Observatory, we all got great views.

Siberian Accentor, Easington, East Yorkshire - Friday 14th October 2016

Very slightly smaller than a Dunnock, with a Zorro-like mask over a yellow head, a patterned mantle in black, chestnut and white, and with a suggestion of rufous tinge to the breast,  it looked like a Dunnock in Cirl Bunting fancy dress. It didn't seem as wary as the Dunnocks, and didn't fly off like them when a pigeon flew low over - preferring to hunker down. It came ridiculously close too, but unfortunately the light meant my photos were a little dark.

Hedge Accentor and Siberian Accentor, Easington, East Yorkshire
Friday 14th October 2016

Before long I had to set off on the two-hour trip to work, but in great spirits! It had been a great twitch - one that will be talked about for years. Lee Evans estimated there were 1400 birder there that day, and for once I wouldn't quibble with his figures. Quite an experience...