Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Gone Birding!

Tuesday 1st May 2012

Twitch On!
A break from the smallholding today and a trip to Flamborough in East Yorkshire.
A bit of a long shot, but news filtered through yesterday of a Pied Flycatcher which wasn't quite right. In fact, the possibility was being muted that it could be an Atlas Flycatcher, named after the Atlas Mountains of North West Africa since that's where it's supposed to live. If it is one, this would be a first for Britain.

This bird sparked much internet debate, with feather by feather analysis and counter analysis. Whilst all this was going on, I decided to ignore that, take the plunge and go and see the thing, if it was still there. Doubtless all those pontificating on the internet will eventually crumble and go and see the bird, just in case it is what it might be!
Once it's presence was confirmed in the morning, I called Chris who left Suffolk to meet up with me. I busied myself for a couple of hours, then left on the 3 hour drive through the whole length of Lincolnshire and on to the coast of Yorkshire.

When we got there it didn't take long to get brief views as the black and white flycatcher flitted about in low shrubs on the other side of a small valley, only to disappear into the wood further up the valley. While we waited for it's reappearance, it was nice to catch up with several birders I'd not seen for a while, particularly Ron and Simon King from Hampshire, Dave and Adrian Webb and Les Holliwell from Essex, John Archer and Bob Watts from London.
Some of the latecomers were getting twitchy as the bird vanished for almost an hour and had spread out to search for it, until I picked it up again flitting about and then sitting right out in the open, back where it had been to start. A couple of phone calls soon had them running back!

I spent another couple of hours at the site enjoying excellent views of this lively little bird. As to what it was that I was watching - well, fortunately a couple of feathers happened to fall out while the bird was being ringed the evening before, so DNA analysis will settle the debate one way or another. All probability says that this is a hybrid bird which just happens to resemble Atlas Flycatcher, but twitching rare birds is, after all, about defying probability.

Anyway, back to my less surreal life on the farm by 8pm, ready for another day.

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