23 Oct 2018

Catbird video

I've just editied a short video I took of the Lands End Gray Catbird taken last Wednesday. Brilliant as the bird was in cover when I took it but I'm pleased to have got anything at all seeing as I'm pretty crap at hand holding the phone to the scope.

As of today (Tuesday 23rd October) the bird is still present and has probably been the bird of the year so far.

A garden regular

This male pheasant has been a regular garden visitor for the last two autumns we've been in the house. It obviously knows when the pheasant shooting season starts (1st October) and 'retires' to our garden to avoid getting shot. Pheasants aren't released on the farmland near us but the farmer does allow rough shooting on his land so this bird knows where it'll be safe.

Although introduced and not truly wild its still a stunning bird to see regularly in the garden.

17 Oct 2018

Not a Saturday Catbird.

When a Gray Catbird turned up on Anglesey on Thursday4th October 2001 I was the other side of the World trying to cope with the searing humidity of wearing a suit to meetings in Malaysia. The bird was mired in a certain amount of controversy as it was typically elusive and there were allegations and counter allegations as some people claimed to have seen it on the Saturday when the majority didn't. A good friend, now sadly deceased and greatly missed, saw the bird on the Saturday and had to put up with years of malcontent form the disgruntled majority who didn't see it on that day claiming the lucky few had seen a Blackcap.

Roll forward 2018 and with an abortive attempt for a first for Britain on the Monday news broke late of a 2nd Gray Catbird near Lands End in Cornwall.  Family comes first and a recent bereavement meant I couldn't make the journey down at first light on Tuesday. Luckily I had the offer of a lift to get there and back on Wednesday (today) so I quickly decided it was worth a punt.

Meeting up at 00.45 with my elective chauffeur we made good progress and arrived on site in darkness around 06.45. One of the prospects I relish about these twitches is meeting up with old friends I hadn't seen for years but the talking had to come later. More importantly was the Catbird still here?

A tense 45 minutes ensued as it got lighter before Mark Sutton shouted he'd got it perched up in blackthorn around 60 m away. Everyone got on it before the bird flew towards us and landed in scrub willows around 15 m in front of us. From then onwards it showed exceptionally well on occasions before diving into thick cover and reappearing further down the line of assembled birders.

Great. This skulker was showing really well and I hadn't bothered bringing my camera as I was expecting brief views only and the weather forecast said it was going to rain whereas the bird performed in sunshine! Arse, as our good friend would have said.

I'd even left the digi-scoping adaptor in the boot of the chauffeur driven limousine and had to rely on hand holding my phone to the 'scope to get any record shots.

A great day out and for once the motorways were relatively painless. Many thanks to my anonymous chauffeur for doing all the driving.

Now maybe those sourpusses who've been chunnering on about the Saturday Catbird since 2001 can finally lay their demons to rest.

16 Oct 2018

Choughing Nora

A great couple of hours local birding after the disappointment of not being able to get to Fair Isle and dipping the White-rumped Swift in Yorkshire. There've been a few Choughs seen in Cheshire and Wirral over the years but most have been flyovers or very brief stayers. Thank you to whoever reported this bird near Caldy today and thanks for Steve for putting the news out! A Cheshire and Wirral first for many people including me.

A bird was seen and photographed recently on Hilbre but that one had a green colour ring on one leg. This bird is a different individual as its un-ringed.

When the news came out I was at home but 30 minutes later I was yomping the short distance along the beach to where Al & Steve were watching the bird on rocks below just north of the Dee Estuary Sailing Club.

I don't think there'll be any issues getting this through the Cheshire rarities committee.