Tuesday 7 June 2011
Bit rushed for time right now so a brief summary of yesterday (6th), which finally produced the first real mega of the spring; it's been a while coming. I was woken at around half 8 this morning by a phone call from Staines, asking me if I'd like to go for the Red-flanked Bluetail that had apparently just been trapped and ringed at Hartepool Headland (Cleveland). I had had a few beers the previous evening, so my instant response was a groggy "no".
Things soon changed when a puzzled Dan Pointon rang me a few minutes later asking what was all this about a White-throated Robin at Hartlepool. I told him I was pretty sure they'd ringed a bluetail but I'd check it out. Quick check of BirdGuides and yes, the bluetail was in fact the robin. A few expletives later I was careering out of Sheffield towards the M1.
Journey took around an hour and 45 mins, and by half 10 I'd arrived at the scene of the crime - Hartlepool Headland bowling green. Unbelievably, the bird was casually hopping about feeding in the margins of the green(!) - I'd been expecting it to be a bit more difficult than that! Continued to watch the bird for a couple of hours as it fed on the bowling greens and in surrounding gardens but, as more and more people arrived and the day wore on, the bird became increasingly mobile, flighty and elusive. I managed a few record shots (below are the best) but this is definitely a DSLR man's bird - a very active critter. I appear to have also been selected as a pin up for twitching; to see what I mean check this out from 22 mins in!
Having had my fill of the robin, I went round to Seaton Carew where an absolutely beautiful male Red-backed Shrike was showing well in dunes south of the sewage works. This will presumably be the most-twitched Red-backed Shrike of 2011. The bird was feeding quite actively but was a better subject for me to try my new camera on (Canon Ixus 220HS). A couple of shots below; very pleased with how it seems, especially given light and heat haze were pretty grim by early afternoon:
Final stop of the day was Saltholme RSPB where an adult Spoonbill was sleeping. Looked at it for a few seconds then went off on a wild shrike chase in the Calor Gas Pool area; eventually found the site with the help of a couple of locals and a bit of searching revealed my second male Red-backed Shrike of the day. Fantastic! This individual was really mobile, and disappeared on to one of the landfills in the area - I don't think many saw this one; a much smaller crew than at Seaton Carew that consisted of a few locals, Mulvey Tours and myself.