Saturday, 13 September 2014

Bongo Birding!

Spent the night at the north end of Old Fall hedge, Flamborough, in the Bongo, with the beam of the lighthouse eerily sweeping across the fields and lighting up the trees next to the window. Woke to the haunting hoot of the fog horn, cooked up a bacon butty and downed a cuppa then got my gear on and dropped down the Old Fall steps and into birding heaven.

Bumped into Craig Thomas and wandered down the hedge with him. Very little about this early, but Craig regaled with me tales of stumbling upon my dream bird, White's Thrush, last autumn on Fair Isle. Having seen little more than a trio of splendid Roe Deer, a Lesser Whitethroat and a handful of Song Thrushes, we went our separate ways, me to Booted Gulley and Craig to work.

Whitethroat. One of the commonest migrant warblers seen.

The sun came out as my fruitless quest continued, though birding in this stunning place always lifts the heart, even when birdless. Four Golden Plovers blogged about and a few Swallows passed by. As I approached the back of the Gorse Field, a skua appeared heading north over the headland. A smart dark juvenile Arctic. Straight over the Coastguard Cottages and away. Nice. Further along, I scanned the gorse which revealed a veritable feast of Whinchats. At least eight of these dapper buff, white and peach chaps were scouting for insects atop the dark green spikes. As I watched them, a large pale grey warbler hulked across on to the brambles. Surely a Barred Warbler! Yes, there it was lumbering about scoffing blackberries. It seemed to enjoy the sunshine and sat for a while in full view on the edge of a bush. Drat the battery in the radio was flat, so I rang Rich Baines to put the news out. As I watched the bird, another bird hopped up chasing the Barred from its chosen patch of bramble. Another Barred Warbler! Unbelievable scenes in the Gorse Field! I managed a rather unspectacular phonescoped shot of one below - which could arguably be a Desert Warbler or a Wryneck!

Could be anything, but this is the first of the Barred Wobblers.

I didn't see much else for a little while apart from a couple of Whitethroats and a Willow Warbler. I dropped the radio back into Rich's house - thanks mate - and then headed to the northside. No sign of Rich's Wryneck, but a smart Spotted Flycatcher, several Whitethroats, a Bullfinch, Chiffchaff and a few more migrant Song Thrushes. I decided to have one more walk around Old Fall before heading west. Phil Cunningham had just found another Barred Warbler in Chalet Hedge. I stopped to look and it was showing straight away and got a smart look through Phil's scope. Hat-trick! A few more birds in Old Fall, including a showy Spot Fly, several Willow Warblers and a Whinchat. Things had certainly picked up. Sad to leave as always, away I went in the Bongo.

Spotted Flycatcher and Whinchat. Always great to see!

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