Today had promise.
A northerly moving into the east yesterday evening with heavy rain overnight and it's October - Janet and I were on the patch for first light. We thought about ringing but decided just to go birding instead.
We started at the entrance to the reserves with the idea of doing the plantation and working our way north from there. Before we even got to the plantation, we checked the small clump of bushes by the entrance - the Elderberry is always good for a Sylvia warbler.
The sun hadn't hit the bushes when I got onto a non-descript warbler, moving low through the base of the bushes. A phylosc was soon ruled out and we stated to eliminate other species on the limited views we had and decided it was an un-streaked acro - but which one? The bird hopped up onto a branch in the first rays of sunshine and I fired off a couple of shots. One of the photos showed the bird with head and tailed held high and I remembered Punkbirders description of Blyth's Reed Warblers having this 'Banana shape'.
|First views just as the sun hit the bushes (ISO 3200!) - Classic Blyth’s Reed posture. You could stick a Fyfe’s sticker on it and sell it for 39p.
We working on the other features when ADMc and Ashington Gary turned up, another opinion was welcome and we agreed that the bird look good for Blyth's Reed Warbler. I got a couple more record shots in better light as it skulked about the low vegetation, never more than a meter from the ground. The bird was 'colder' than Eurasian reed , sandy white underparts and olivey-brown, but not warm, upperparts and the tertials were plain.
|This record-shot shows the shape and colour better as well as short primary-projection, supercillium extending behind the eye and 'grey' leg colour
|This photo shows the two-toned bill colour and supercillium as well as the colour of the breast and flanks
Whilst I was birding the plantation, Janet saw the Blyth's Reed come right out onto a umbellifer stem and gave the 'tcheck' call. It wasn't heard to call before that.
What a bird! And it finally puts to rest the bird Janet and I saw back on the 5th October 2013which we were convinced was Blyth's Reed but we never got enough to clinch it. A new bird for the patch then taking my total to 251 and the second addition this year after another rare acro - Great Reed Warbler.
We headed north checking all of the bushes from the Plantation to the Dunbar Burn. Goldcrests (110+) and Robins (45+) were the most numerous species. We also noted
Yellow-browed Warbler - 7 (conservative estimate allowing for double-counting)
Chiffchaff - 2
Garden Warbler - 1
(Eurasian) Reed Warbler- 1
Siskin - 5
Dunnock - 12
Song Thrush - 8
|One of over 100 Goldcrests
|One of seven Yellow-browed Warblers
|And another Yellow-browed Warbler
|This photo shows the central crown-strip which some Yellow-brows show
|One of five Siskins
|Record-shot of the Eurasian Reed Warbler
Also of note was the almost constant calls of Skylark overhead and several skeins of Barnacle Geese with an under-count of 107 over and a single Swallow.
|Plenty of these feckers this autumn...
Yesterday, Janet and I braved the rain and birded the patch in rough conditions. We did from the Plantation to the Dunbar Burn. Top bird was Treecreeper in the Plantation - only my sixth for the patch and my fist not from a net! Also of note were:
Long-eared Owl - sat on the fence opposite the Little Hide in the rain
Pink-footed Geese - 1550
Yellow-Browed Warbler - 1
This evening I headed back to the patch, for high-tide to check out the Scoter flock for a possible sub-adult male Surf Scoter reported yesterday. It was impossible with a massive sea and the Scoters being well beyond the breakers. Some gull photos will follow later this week, but here is one to whet the appetite. Three Swallows were feeding in the lee of the dunes.
|Just a tempter for later in the week