Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Red-footed Falcon

On the way back from the Blyth's Reed Warbler last week I stopped near the village of Biggin in North Yorkshire. A first-summer female Red-footed Falcon had been frequenting some fields and wires to the south of the village, and I arrived just in time to see it flushed and fly out of view into the distance.

An our later it wasn't looking promising, but then the falcon was picked up flying towards us and it gave a nice flypast before landing back on its favoured wires. Just the second Red-foot I've seen, it was quite a smart bird and nice to see a female after the moulting male at Druridge in 2015.

The location was quite productive for other raptors and I managed to pick up another four species while looking for the Red-foot; Peregrine, Red Kite, Buzzard and Kestrel. Also nearby, a Little Owl was sat on a roof and a Yellow Wagtail flitted around the fields. 

Red-footed Falcon

Yellow Wagtail

Sunday, 21 June 2020

Blyth's Reed Warbler

On Friday I ventured southwards to Far Ings NR in Lincolnshire. My target was the singing male Blyth's Reed Warbler and, sure enough, I was treated to a superb performance by the bird as it sang from its favoured bushes.

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Thursday, 18 June 2020

Asian Desert Warbler on Holy Island!

When talking about which birds I'd most like to see on Holy Island, the same few species often crop up in the conversation - Black Lark, Asian Desert Warbler or Cretzschmar's Bunting to name a few. However, I never really expected to see any of them. That was about to change on Monday evening as I was sat around the house not doing very much...

A notification came up on my phone saying that the Sylvia warbler seen very briefly on Holy Island earlier in the day had been relocated and identified as an Asian Desert Warbler. Wow. Just the 13th to be seen in the UK and first in Northumberland, we were heading north within five minutes. Two sets of temporary traffic lights and a level crossing seemed determined to stop us and the fog and darkness was closing in, making us even more nervous. 

On arrival at The Snook we were greeted by a small group of birders looking intently into a hawthorn. Luckily the ASIAN DESERT WARBLER was still present, and while it took a bit of time to get good views of, we were able to add it to our Northumberland and British lists. It gave a couple of brief bursts of distinctive, descending song before appearing to go to roost in a willow. We were both ecstatic (and somewhat relieved!) to have seen the bird but I hoped to get better views on Tuesday if it was still present...

It was another slightly misty morning on Tuesday, and the Asian Desert Warbler was still present and showing well. I spent several hours getting some great views as it moved around one particular pine tree, as well as making brief flights to nearby hawthorns and willows. It was an excellent twitch with the Warbler on view almost all of the time, as well as coming out into the open and singing regularly. A brilliant end to what was a bit of a difficult spring!

I also had a bit of time to walk around the rest of the island on Tuesday with the highlights including a couple of Spotted Flycatchers, reeling Grasshopper Warbler, Whimbrel and the usual spectacular display of orchids. The only negative was that the 1000+ Starlings I checked during the day didn't have a pink one with them, but I can't complain after such a memorable experience with one of the rarest birds I've seen in Northumberland!

Asian Desert Warbler!

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Spotted Flycatcher at The Lough

Grasshopper Warbler

Monday, 1 June 2020

Holy Island

With a bit of east in the wind and some misty weather overnight we decided to spend yesterday on Holy Island. While the hoped for rarity didn't materialise, it was nice to see a female Red-backed Shrike on the fences near the Straight Lonnen. It largely remained distant along the far end of the fences but did come a bit closer for a few minutes, although we were always looking towards the sun.

We managed very few other migrants with single Willow Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat, and a couple of Common Whitethroats. However, the always stunning scenery made also helped to make it a very nice day.

Red-backed Shrike

Swallow at The Lough