Saturday 5 October 2013

A tale of 'the one that got away'

There is an interesting pre-amble in the latest issue British Birds to the rare bird report for 2012. The introductory text talks about changes to the way that records are submitted, the decline in note-taking and the increase in digital images as well as 'single observer records'.

It also mentions the line that is drawn between 'the one that got away' and a return from the BBRC of 'not proven'.

We saw a bird today that is well into 'the one that got away' territory. Hopefully it will also be a useful learning experience. Here's the tale...

Ten to eight this morning and I was in the plantation at the entrance to Druridge Links. Janet had just called to say she arrived and asked where I was.

As I was talking a warbler popped out from some low pine and nettle vegetation and I got the briefest of views before it dropped into cover. It was a chunky looking acro, brown above, pale-creamy buff below - but the most striking thing was the way it's tail was 'cocked' pointing up the way like a cetti's warbler or sprosser holds its tail (it did this every time we saw it).

Janet arrived, I explained the situation. We got two more very brief views as it skulked about in the thick, low-lying, pine. I managed to get some detail on the bill, dark above, paler lower mandible and on the legs which looked dark. The second time it flew a little into a higher pine, still obscured, then dropping back into the low stuff it preferred. It never called. I tried a record shot, but just got over-exposed twigs. It skulked away into the vegetation. Nick Adams turned up and joined the search but we never saw it again.

Describing our bird to Dave E, he said 'shaped like a banana'  - and that's exactly what it was. I found the reference to 'shaped like a banana' -

In fact that photo that punkbirder used could have been our bird...

We had ruled out the 'bigger' acros and paddyfield. So, we probably had a Blyth's reed warbler today we didn't clinch it because we couldn't rule out reed warbler as didn't see the upper-parts for long enough to gauge primary projection and we never heard it call. So it will always be a 'one that got away'.

Viz-migging was good again today, especially earlier in the morning with pipits, skylarks and oddly, tree sparrows being really obvious, the latter headed south in small groups. There were also a few swallows and martins, small groups of pied wagtails, siskin and redpoll with a couple of  grey wags over too.

We heard, but didn't see, a yellow-browed warbler and the subalpine warbler was again in the 'Druridge bushes' north of the turning circle. We watched leave those bushes, land briefly in a lone hawthorn, then disapear into a large clump of Rosa rugosa 15 yards south of the turning circle. It may never be seen again - that rose clump is very dense!

161 golden plover

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