6 Dec 2016

Dusky Thrush.

Oh my. Oh me. What a Christmas cracker. When a photo emerged Sunday night of a Dusky Thrush at a private site in Derbyshire my pulse quickened ever so slightly. Steve and I had been discussing the possibility of a wintering bird being discovered sometime with so many records in the last few years. All have been one day birds though - including the bird in Margate that Jason & I dipped as he was laying our new kitchen floor and I didn't want to leave him whilst I waltzed off to Kent knowing he also needed the bird. Consequently we travelled down the next day and the bird was gone. See here. Nearly all the recent records have been one day or even one hour sightings apart from a Devon bird which was present for a week but the news wasn't released until after the event. My hopes weren't high that it would still be around Monday and events were conspiring against me even if it was. Jan had my car as hers had developed a fault and been back at the dealers for a week. They were expecting it to be available on Monday but couldn't promise a time. I had to go and pick her up and take her to collect her car so wouldn't get away until Tuesday at the earliest.

As it happened the bird was still there Monday morning and the dealer phoned to say the car was available from midday and the builders we were expecting at the house at 4pm phoned to say they couldn't make it until the Tuesday. Could I possibly make it?

With binoculars permanently in the car but no camera or scope I did a quick search on google maps. One hour, forty minutes fro mChester to Beeley in Derbyshire. I'd be there with a couple of hours before dark.... With regular updates I went for it! I hit the first snag just outside Macclesfield where an inconsiderate tractor driver loaded with straw bales kept a queue of traffic stretching a mile long behind him for over 10 miles! Cursing all things agricultural I could do nothing but grit my teeth and wait until he decided he'd had enough fun and pulled off. The next more serious hold up was crossing the snake pass where a major incident had just taken place with a lorry turing over. Two helicopters and numerous emergency vehicles were present but luckily we were diverted down a single track road where cars being diverted in the opposite direction caused passing chaos.

The sat nave was now showing 2.5 hours!!! Eventually I arrived at the designated spot, parked up and within 5 minutes I was watching my first ever Dusky Thrush. A bird on my most wanted list.

Photo's courtesy of Alan Hitchmough

It was feeding in an old orchard and was coming down to feed on windfall apples. The local Blackbird took exception by its presence and chased it off whereby it would land in one of the fruit trees and wait until the coast was clear again. Fantastic views and a generally well behaved crowd. What always gets me at these events though is the constant loud voices. I think people have forgotten how to whisper.

A great local(ish) twitch  and with news coming put later that it had possibly been present for at least 10 days hopefully it'll over winter and allow others to catch up with this beautiful Siberian vagrant. What a fabulous early Christmas present.

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