Friday 12 October 2012

Golden Wonder

I said around 24 hours ago that I'd update my blog no more than every two days. Well, today sure merits a bit of effort to throw something together

The day started as that previous, in the top part of Fojo looking for the Wood Thrush. No sign of the thrush but we did hear a couple of contact calls from the Blackpoll (not seen). Then the radio crackled in to life - "GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER IN LIGHTHOUSE VALLEY" was repeated several times and everyone scrambled out of the wood and started to run north like a bunch of headless chickens.

Meeting Jens on the way there, it transpired that he had seen the bird briefly on a juniper bush before it had disappeared, not to be seen again. We headed down to the valley, but there was no sign of the beast - in the mean time, I managed to find a Red-eyed Vireo in dense vegetation midway along the valley and the French machine Pierre picked up a Black-and-white Warbler at the GWW site. The Black-and-white showed extremely well to most; I was one of the few people who had just a few calls and flight views - maybe I'll try it again over the next few days. In the meantime, the weather got pretty awful, with heavy rain and a strong westerly blowing down the valley and causing most of the birds to take cover. The next couple of hours were the most miserable I've endured on The Rock; we all ended up pretty soaked although eventually it did brighten up slightly and the Golden-winged search could begin again.

With the Black-and-white again showing in the improved conditions early afternoon, we were starting to believe the Golden-winged had done one. Deciding that the bird must have moved somewhere different, I elected to head up the valley and check some of the more sheltered areas beyond where I'd had the vireo in the morning. Plenty of searching but no reward; I was out of the valley a minute too late to see the bittern-type bird Stew flushed from fields on the south side. I continued to walk along the north side of the valley until, a further 100m up, I heard a wood-warbler give a sharp 'tsiip' call. Five minutes later, another 'tsiip' and then a flash of yellow - holy fuck! The bird landed on top of a hydrangea, and there was no mistaking it - black mask, black throat, ridiculous golden-yellow wings and forehead - it was the Golden-winged Warbler!

I couldn't find my radio in my panic and just started to wave like a maniac until those gathered down the valley saw me. Fortunately Ernie was on hand to put out my message on the walkie talkie and soon the twitch started to gather pace; thankfully the bird obliged and showed incredibly well for the next hour or so (down to 3m) - one of those monster WP birds that everyone dreamed (but no-one dared to believe) would turn up here. Simply incredible - words cannot describe! I even managed some digibinned pics; the fourth pic down shows the tiny hydrangea stand the bird spent about half an hour in.

On the way back, we had great views of the vocal Indigo Bunting at da Ponte bridge. Back in the village in the evening Pierre found an American Barn Swallow showing extremely well over the middle fields - a perfect end to a brilliant day.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing day, certainly brings back memories of the Kent GWW but I like your size crowd better :-)