Staffordshire Bird News

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Wilson's Warbler on Lewis!

Ah if only.....thats why I'm not a fan of autumn. When stuff turns up its usually mid week on a far flung island and only those very fortunate ones can make it. We did consider going to Lewis but one or two things didn't quite fit in place. But at least putting a title like that to my latest blog will boost up the numbers reading it....thanks for tuning in. 

Well it's October and one of the main months of the year for birders. And the wait goes on for the next tick. On 3rd October, CJW was working, Staffs was lifeless so we headed off to North Wales. Not a bad trip in the end with Yellow-browed Warbler, Firecrest and Lapland Bunting on the Great Orme and a brief Pectoral Sandpiper at Burton Mere Wetlands.

The following weekend we did bird in Staffs, with my latest ever Osprey in the county being the highlight. And so on to this weekend, October 17th. 

With the WILSON'S WARBLER sat performing and laughing at us, we needed a good day out to raise our spirits. With a week of NE winds, the east coast was full of goodies. I left the decision to CJW, as there were two ticks for him on Flamborough Head, and one in Norfolk. In the end, he went for the better supporting cast, as North Norfolk was having a decent spell.

We headed off at 05:00hrs and picked PLo, parking up in Wells car park at 08:30hrs. This area holds fond memories for me, as on my first ever trip to Norfolk in 1982, we camped at Wells.CJW decided to go for his tick first. We met DPo and he guided us to the Blyth's Reed Warbler site. Fortunately, the birders on site were quite active, and we tagged on behind two very active searchers. This move paid off, and we were soon watching the Blyth's Reed Warbler sat in a bramble bush. There was no time to stop, and we were soon stood by the drinking pool in the middle of Wells Wood watching a Red-blue Flankedtail. There were birders everywhere and we were receiving reports of stuff virtually every minute. We walked down to the main track, stood with a crowd and soon had 20+ Goldcrest feet away from us. I spotted a Firecrest which attracted quite a bit of attention before the Hume's Yellow-browed Warbler started calling away. It appeared that this was a new call to quite a few around us, but the views were only as it flew over head. With reports of PALLAS'S WARBLERS as well, we continued down the track, eventually arriving at Lady Ann's Drive. Whilst walking down, it was nice to meet up again with the RSPB's area manager for North Norfolk and Lincs (impressive hey...but we did start twitching together!).  

It then went a bit quiet. No one had seen any PALLAS'S WARBLERS and we didn't really feel like walking all the way to the end of the Holkham track to see our second BLUE-FLANKED REDTAIL of the day. So we headed back, meeting up with PJ and NDP, seeing the Hume's Yellow-browed Warbler again before finally arriving back at the car in Wells. 

A quick visit to the Co-op in Wells and we headed down Lady Ann's Drive to join the many "bake-off" fans taking in the Norfolk air. We walked back up the track towards Wells first and finally caught it with an excellent Pallas's Warbler feeding in one of the sycamores off the path. It was then back down the track to the hide overlooking Holkham freshmarsh and the Isabelline Shrike next. At first, we were watching a dot on the furthest hedge in the distance. We stood and discussed about going to Beeston Common to see the other ISABELLINE SHRIKE but slowly it started making its way towards us. Eventually, it flew to the hedgerow bordering the path, giving us excellent views. 



Isabelline Shrike Holkham Freshmarsh


It had been an amazing spell of birding in such a small area. I'd managed two seconds for Britain and five Norfolk ticks in a few hours. Next stop was Titchwell. The reserve itself was full of the usual Titchwell regulars. Amazingly, we were spotted as intruders straight away by the car park greeter, who immediately labelled us as "those dirty unwashed twitchers type from Wells Wood". Just as he was about to shout "we don't like your types here" we hastily ran off towards the visitors centre. We were visibly shaken by this, but then the man in the shop also recognised us and again accused us of  "coming from Wells Wood". We soon started looking at the sightings book and asked him the best place to see Chaffinches and we seemed to get away with it and the situation calmed down. We stood watching the feeders with a few visitors, shouting out when a Chaffinch landed on the feeders. Then a Goldfinch landed but CJW dragged me away. 

There wasn't a lot to see on the main part of the reserve. One amusing incident happened in one of the hides. I was sat with CJW at one end, and PLo was at the other. I shoued over to him that there was a Teal out of my window (amusing due to the fact there were c300 in front of us). PLo managed to keep a straight face, and carried on doing so when a nice lady pointed out a Wigeon to him. Bless them all.

We started walking back to the car park, bumping into the Clayheads No1 stalker with two of his henchmen (we'd managed to avoid him all day) when CJW spotted a Bittern in flight over the reeds. Always nice to see, as were the twelve Red-crested Pochard on Patsy's Marsh, a bit of Titchwell we'd never seen before. Tea at Macdonalds on the way back....we'd had a decent day.