Thursday, 14 May 2015

Citril Finch, Norfolk - May 10th 2015

After the recent hectic period - one trip to the Scilly Isles and two trips to Somerset - things quietened down a bit over the Bank Holiday weekend. I wasn't able to go for the Manchester/Derbs Red-throated Pipit which would have been nice to see but you just have to accept these things. 

On Saturday 9th May we had our first trip in Staffordshire for almost a month and it was incredibly hard going. The highlights of nearly ten hours in the field were a Lesser Whitethroat at Westport (5th record in ten years) and eight Dunlin at Branston. These were the only new birds we found during the day.

And so Sunday started off as normal with a visit to Westport. I'd got a busy day planned, with my usual Sunday jobs plus finding my lawns again following a few weeks of damp weather. We'd also discussed going to Wrexham to look for butterflies when I'd finished. Just as I started to think about going outside to set my mower up, I decided I'd better have one last look at my phone. One message caught my eye. It was a CITRIL FINCH in Norfolk. Calmly I texted the news to PJ and CJW. CJW replied with an "Argh". And that's exactly how it felt. A quick ring round to all concerned, permission from the boss obtained and within about thirty minutes of news breaking we were on the road.

This was all for a bird that up to now, had only been seen briefly in flight. It was a huge gamble, but the Clayheads new motto is "He who dares...". As PJ drove, there were a few more flight views messages and long periods of no news, but it wasn't until about 11:00hrs that it was finally seen on the ground. All the while, I just kept thinking that it was Norfolk, and it would soon have a large crowd tracking its every move. At 12:00hrs, it finally showed well, but we didn't arrive until after 13:30hrs. We made the long walk past Holkham pines and to the start of the dunes again knowing it had been showing, but it had flown off again.

We stood in the dunes and there were birders milling all over the place. We hadn't been standing there for long when a crowd started walking towards us. Apparently the Citril Finch had flown over our heads and dropped down. We all gathered round a large valley and the group on the opposite side were soon pointing. Just in front of us and down the slope was the male Citril Finch feeding away in the sand. We were having views that we only dreamt about while we were travelling over. The only problem I was having was people in front of me blocking my view. I eventually walked down into the valley and had slightly better views but still with people getting in my way.

The crowd at the Citril Finch twitch


Citril Finch, Burnham Overy Dunes, Norfolk. May 10th 2015
Citril Finch by Phil Jones

Eventually it flew off and we had a leisurely walk back to the car, watching all the red faced walkers on their way to the twitch. We reassured them that there were only another two miles to walk.

A sign of a good twitch
 Following a short break, we headed over to Choseley Drying Barns where we saw 18 Dotterel in a field to cap off another fine, but totally unexpected day. Its turning out to be quite a decent spring.

Full frame Dotterel photos from Choseley
Chris, Philip and Richard all basking in the late afternoon sun watching Dotterel
PJ performed magnificantly was doing all the driving. The conversation eventually turned to Haircut 100 as it usually does on long journeys. And so here is a song by them.