Monday 13 April 2009

Down South, 12th April

With news of a White-throated Sparrow in Hampshire, a dream team (consisting of Will Bowell, Dan Pointon and myself) was quickly assembled for an assault on the south coast. Leaving Langtoft just before 02:00, we arrived at Old Winchester Hill mid-morning (following a couple of hours' birding at another site en-route).

Immediate impressions were not good; although the bird was seen soon after arrival, chaos had broken out amongst the hordes of dudes present on site. Every time the bird was seen in a different spot, mass panic broke out and the group would charge over to gain further views. Most were stood next to the thicket (no wonder it shows only occasionally!), with some even in the bushes themselves. The total lack of fieldcraft on display was somewhat worrying, and did prompt the occasional complaint from yours truly and a few other sensible souls who were standing at a reasonable distance. Twitch-wise this was one of the all-time lows, but the bird made up for it. A stunningly bright male, with striking head pattern and surprisingly rufous-toned upperparts, it was often located by its prominent 'chipping' call - my rather poor photos below don't do it justice. Apparently it had also been heard singing, but unfortunately I missed this. A couple of Bullfinches were also noted.

male White-throated Sparrow, 12th April...

... and again.

Keen to get away from the carnage, we headed back north. A Ring-necked Parakeet flew over the M25, but the ever-sharp Pointon missed it. This meant we had to stop at Wraysbury so he could add the species to his year list. Sure enough, several noisy birds were seen around Magna Carta Lane without having to stop the car, so we continued northwards.

A call from Mick Frosdick informed us that the previous day's White Stork had been reportedly relocated in Hertfordshire, but a search of the area failed to produce anything of real note, let alone the stork. Finally got home a little before 16:00, exhausted and ready for sleep after having just 5 hours over the previous two nights!

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