Sunday 24 October 2010

NNOBS 16-17 October – Sunday

Having enjoyed our one-way walk yesterday, we got seriously logistical and organised, leaving one car at Holme golf course, and the others at Thornham, enabling us to walk between the two without retracing steps. No sign of the Yellowlegs from a few years ago in Thornham harbour and the guys seemed to have much more fun trying to look at me peeing in the middle of the saltmarsh.

It was pretty quiet until we reached Holme, though I did hear a Lap Bunt with the Skylark flock in the stubble near Thornham. After a chat with Gary in the Firs, we went down on to the beach, where, after a tip-off, we picked up the male Black Redstart which was zipping around frenetically on the dune edge, along with some more relaxed Bramblings. A little further on a flock of Snow Buntings drifted on to the beach, c12, giving good views. Back on the boardwalk, I decided to look at a group of three birders who just seemed to be looking that bit too intently at a patch of scrub. The middle guy saw me looking and suddenly beckoned. I shouted to the lads and said that these guys might have got something. I joked that it would be nice if they had something really good, not just a Yellow-brow or a Brambling.

I arrived after a bit of a detour to avoid the danger of flushing whatever they were watching, to find my old birding mate Dick Newell. Having exchanged pleasantries, he said that he had just seen a Red-flanked Bluetail – Ace! He had seen it for five seconds and hadn’t seen it since and his two mates had missed it. The patch of dense Sea Buckthorn scrub was huge and thick. I wasn’t too optimistic! I decided to give Gary a call to let him know what was going on and he arrived shortly. He brought look as the Bluetail suddenly shot out of the scrub and did a little fly past of the ten or so birders that had gathered. I just got a flash of blue as it disappeared into the bushes. Would this be all we would get? On a hunch, I thought I would leave the group and stand in a little open area where I could see the sheltered sunny edge of the bushes where it had gone. After a few tense minutes, the Bluetail appeared, and flew right past me back into the bushes by the other group. So, it had gone over the clear area and into the scrub on the farside. Thank God it had come back this way! Anyway, I joined the others and we got hidden views of it flicking about in the original spot where Dick had seen it. Dick by this point was visibly relieved that others had seen h
is bird! After a few minutes, the bird again headed towards the clear area. I followed my hunch again, but surprisingly, apart from Terry, nobody came with me. After a few moments, Terry pointed out some movement near the end of the scrub. Then, to our delight, the Bluetail hopped out into the open on the grass. What a little belter! It stood there in full sunlight, only ten metres away for at least 30 seconds, before flying low into the scrub on the far side. We immediately shouted the others who came down. Gary arrived back and started roping the area off. We decided we should head off. What a great finale! On the way back to golf course, we had fine views of a Kingfisher feeding in a saltmarsh creek and a colossal flock of Starlings along the coast path. So we finally got some good birds on a NNOBS trip. Newbie Reg will have to improve on his stamina though if he is to last the weekend in future!

Bluetail photo borrowed from Penny Clarke's fab blog - I hope she doesn't mind!

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