Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Another thrush, this time blue!

Another offer of a space that was hard to refuse...

A blue rock thrush in Gloucestershire. Another pleasant twitch with the bird showing well on the roofs of a cul de sac for the majority of the time we were there, only 30-50 birders present scattered across a few streets, all well behaved, the locals were pleasant and interested. The cafe was nice for an all day breakfast too.

So is the bird actually wild??

Location- slightly odd, but eastern black redstart not far away recently and dusky thrush not too far north either. The roof tops are not the sort of habitat you would expect to see a rock thrush on, but the roofs were covered with moss and quite rock like, the brickwork of the buildings were natural rather than red bricks. Clutching at straws maybe, but it wasn't a million miles from the correct cliff like mountainous habitat...

Behaviour- while we were there the bird was flying from rooftop to rooftop looking for food, it stuck to the rooftops apart from a brief flight to a conifer. At one point it saw a fly and did a rather good impression of a flycatcher, it also chased a few flies successfully, so was able to feed itself without any problems. It was not particularly scared of us, but at the same time it didn't come and beg for food, it kept its distance on the tops in its 'rocky habitat'.

Plumage/appearance- Essentially a long billed round headed blue 'blackbird'. Left wing drooping was not great. Apart from that the plumage looked good, white crescents and long bill are suggestive of eastern origin which is good considering the number of eastern birds this autumn. I couldn't see any abraided feathers or signs of it being a cage bird, I didn't get to inspect its feet.

I must admit I went there slightly sceptical and returned with the impression that this could well be a wild bird, behaviourally it was good, plumage good, location/habitat maybe not quite so much, but possibly not as bad as it sounds, it will be interesting to hear the thoughts of the bbrc.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Up long before dawn to see a dusky!

I had a very pleasant day twitching the Dusky Thrush in Beeley today. The offer of a seat in a car was too great to resist so four of us got up at an ungodly hour (at this time of the year!) and were in the Peak District watching a Dusky Thrush by 8am!
We saw the bird as soon as we arrived which was lucky as it then went missing for an hour and a half, in which time we searched the small town of all likely spots, there were hundreds of redwings about, but we failed to re find the bird. On returning to the adventure playground where the thrush was best viewed from, a shout came from the neighbouring field, the bird showed well in the open for around five minutes, but was a little distant. It then flew straight towards and past us showing us its subtle differences in flight shape (longer tailed and slightly stockier than redwing). It flew into the orchid where it gave the best views of the day, there was a little bit of a scrum, but everyone got to see the bird feeding on the fallen apples at fairly close range, the light was pretty awful and many heads and bamboo canes got in the way regularly, but I managed a few poor grainy out of focus shots for the record. After this we walked back to the car park, seeing a dipper in the river on the way back for an extra bonus bird.

The twitch itself was one of the more bizarre- we arrived to signs directing us to the 'birders carpark' where we duly parked, a specially put on shuttle bus then took the birders from the car park 1km down the road to where the bird was showing, where we followed arrows labelled 'bird'! On passing the hot drinks stand, toilets and sausage/bacon bap stand we found the playground. The first proper amusement came when the birders had to cross a wooden see-saw bridge to get to the viewing platform/wall a scene which certainly put a smile on my face, even with a 4am start.

Great bird, great twitch and money raised for a good cause, my fourth UK tick of the year (BOU 411)