Monday, 26 May 2014

Blyth's Reed Warbler!!

With non-birding friends staying with us over the weekend I hadn't expected to be out at all on Sunday or Monday. After the recent run of good birds and knowing that Nick would be out on the patch, I had a slight feeling of unease about what he might find. Sure enough soon after 0930 on Sunday morning I had a text from Nick saying he had found a new Marsh Warbler, this time at the ringing site. Another nice find, but fortunately nothing to concern me unduly after finding one yesterday... or so I thought. A comment from Nick that it was singing rather differently from yesterday's Marsh Warbler rang alarm bells and I responded with a text saying 'Not a Blyth's Reed then...". Before too long Nick was on the phone and clearly the Marsh Warbler ID was bugging him a little and although further views were going to be needed, it was sounding quite promising. However, there was no chance of me coming to help out and much of the day was spent doing other things. 

Further updates from Nick during the day kept me in the picture and clearly he (along with Micky) was becoming convinced that this was indeed a Blyth's Reed, but it was hard to see and with it frequenting an area close to a couple of my net rides the possibility of trying to catch it to confirm the identification was mooted. So, in the late afternoon I was able to get down to the ringing site and soon we had a couple of nets up and before too long we'd caught it. Checks of the pertinent aspects of the wing formula were undertaken and the identification was confirmed - it was indeed a Blyth's Reed. Wow! 

Blyth's Reed Warbler

Great work by Nick, with his usual dogged persistence paying dividends in style. It's been a bird I had been hoping might appear in the ringing site at some point and previous unstreaked Acros that have turned up in the nets had all proved to be Reed Warblers. However, this is further demonstration of what might be found at less well-watched sites along the Yorkshire coast.  We are enjoying a wonderful run of great birds at the moment, and this is yet another first for the area following the recent long overdue additions of Short-toed Lark here at Long Nab and the Tawny Pipit at South Cliff Golf Course. With just a handful of birders covering this large stretch of coast it is a demonstration of the huge untapped potential there is around here. Given a determination to keep going through the lean spells you will get a chance to enjoy some great birds when the luck turns and then as some might say "you can punch above your weight". 

Saturday, 24 May 2014

On a roll...

A fairly early start for me to do a breeding bird survey found me at the nab by 0545. Initially a bright start, the cloud was to increase during the morning with rain as I left late morning. Although there was obvious promise after yesterday, I wasn't especially expecting to be dropping on too much of note, but I was hopeful as always. As I worked along the coastal path the local Whitethroats, Skylarks, Meadow Pipits kept me occupied as I mapped their territories. 

Skylarks seem to be doing well at Long Nab with a slight increase in territories since my last survey.
A singing Reed Bunting was enjoyable but there was precious little sign of any new arrivals and visible migration was mainly limited to a couple of Red-throated Divers heading N over the sea and a flock of Cormorants heading south.

Singing Reed Bunting

A flock of Cormorants heading south

Arriving at the ringing site I was pleased to find that yesterday's Wood Warbler was still present and I enjoyed prolonged views of it as it fed in the canopy above the bridge. As I was watching it I heard a familiar call from behind me - a Red-breasted Flycatcher! Wow! But surely not? I headed in the direction of the call hearing it several more times and confirming my identification, but couldn't actually see it. It then went silent and I spent a while doing a circuit of the plantation without any joy. Returning to the original spot however it called again and this time I could see it. Fantastic! Always a great bird to see and my first in the Long Nab area. Not only that, but it appears to be the first spring record for the Scarborough area. It was hard to get prolonged views of as it lurked low down much of the time, but I managed a very poor record shot.

Red-breasted Flycatcher - you can just about make out the white bases to the outer tail feathers.
Delighted with this discovery - only the third Red-breasted Flycatcher I have been fortunate enough to actually find in the UK - I continued with the survey. I checked the hedgerow for yesterday's Red-backed Shrike but drew a blank and the rest of my walk back to the car was fairly uneventful. Deciding that I should go and check Cromer Point pond, I walked along the southern edge of Crook Ness. I'd found nothing of note on my arrival early in the morning, but this time I soon heard a bird singing that I instantly suspected was a Marsh Warbler. A few more phrases and I had heard enough to be convinced. Brief views were enough to determine it was an Acrocephalus warbler but no other significant characters could be noted as although the bird continued to sing on and off, it refused to be sociable and come out of the blackthorn and reeds it was frequenting. 

My walk down to Cromer Point was quiet bar the Yellow Wagtail below, but it had been a truly excellent morning on the patch and makes all those often largely birdless visits worth the effort.

Yellow Wagtail

Friday, 23 May 2014

Back on the patch

It's been a while since I have been able to spend a great deal of time on the patch as a variety of survey work commitments, mainly in the South Pennines have taken me away for much of the past month. The occasions I have been about have rarely coincided with potentially productive weather so it has been slim pickings for me here of late. However, with a flurry of reports of Red-backed Shrikes and other drift migrants along the coast, it seemed a good opportunity to try my luck. I spent a good portion of the early to mid afternoon period working the hedgerows without much luck, although I was pleased to find a Wood Warbler at the ringing site; always a joy to find! 

However, that apart there were few other migrants, a couple of Wheatears being the best of it. With time moving on and other commitments looming it was soon time to be heading back and as the fog rolled in I couldn't help feeling that I must have missed a shrike lurking somewhere. Sure enough around 6pm I got a call from Nick to say he had found a Red-backed Shrike frequenting a hedgerow that had been shrouded in fog during my visit. Mixed emotions of delight that the patch had delivered, but tinged with frustration that I had missed the opportunity of a find. Still, it was a very nice bird to see later in the evening after having enjoyed a meal out. 

Wood Warbler