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Thursday 15 October 2020

Red-flanked Bluetail & Dawn 'til Dusk Birding!

Found By Andy Brown, last night at Holme!


There was no messing about this morning! Arrived at Holme village car park at 6.55am! Only a couple of birders before me, if I recall correctly. It was cold, very cold! But I'm not complaining, love this time of year! A huge mass of Starlings filled the early morning skies, possibly thousands going west, it truly was a spectacle! Redwings were feeding in the area of grass with seats, directly opposite the toilet block. Blackbirds, Robins and Hedge Sparrows were seen. But, no sign of the Red-flanked Bluetail. Birders came, birders went and all left but for yesterday's finder Andy Brown and Keith Tinworth was around somewhere still. My father always said to me that you 'never see a good bird before 9am'. It was 8.50am and I was about to go, but decided to wait a bit longer! I was not in the village car park, I was attempting to peer into the back garden behind the long hedge (where the bluetail was found last night). Suddenly I heard Andy shout 'BLUETAIL' – running in wellies is not ideal, but ran I did! Over the little bridge across the stream and into the corner of the carpark to find that Andy had brilliantly found his own bird again! I was SO excited and so was he – magic! There it was, perched very briefly in the umbellifers at the base of the long hedge, so brief, that as I was midway lifting the camera, it disappeared further along the hedge! We were the only ones to see it at 9.08am and put the news out to RBA 1 minute later! I requested Andy to find a White's Thrush next – he smiled!

Birders watching the Red-flanked Bluetail at Holme

Closest I got, when my Sandisk 32GB card said it was full!
Luckily I had another card in the car. When I got home, I only had over 300 pictures on this obviously dodgy card, which I won't be using again!

Birders that were there earlier returned and more arrived, but the Red-flanked Bluetail was happy to make people wait. Robins teased and appeared, Goldcrests were seen and a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew over and more small flocks of Starlings and Redwings headed west. The Bluetail made birders wait until 10.58am before it put in its second appearance! Thereafter that it appeared more frequently throughout the day and was covering a fairly big area. The Robins or a Robin was not happy with their blue tailed visitor at all and almost every time the bluetail perched, the Robin would chase it off. Its favoured place being in the long hedge at the back of the car park, but sometimes found in the scrub to the right of the little path that runs from the far left corner of the car park, over the bridge, that leads up to the coastal footpath. I found a very excited older birder who said he couldn't quite believe it himself, but had seen TWO Red-flanked Bluetails together in one hawthorn, I don't think people believed him, but why not? Unfortunately he did not have a camera, that would have been a scoop! Has anyone photographed two bluetails together in the UK, probably not?! I waited with him for a while, but did not get lucky with 2 x RFB's on the camera! I didn't really get any mint shots of the bluetail at all, as not close enough for my 300mm lens and you can't creep closer when there a good number of people around. I met lots of blog readers today, nice to meet you all and hope you all enjoyed your day.

I meandered east along the coastal footpath (behind the back of the houses) as someone had just seen a Pallas's Warbler along there, but I didn't see it. Tit flock of Long-tailed Tits, Great Tit, Blue Tit, but nothing with them that I could see. Redwings, Hedge Sparrows and Blackbirds seen and a Marsh Harrier over the Saltings. Turned onto the Firs Road by the pay hut and ambled along the very narrow and very muddy/slippery public footpath that runs along the River Hun up to the bridge at NOA Redwell Marsh Hide. Lots of Goldcrests in the large sycamores, where the standing caravan used to be (Collared Fly spot), but couldn't eek out any Pallas's Warblers, which is what I was hoping for. Walked back along the Firs Road to the village car park for more views of the bluetail – on route I saw something very unusual indeed – a Kingfisher flew across me from gardens and across the horse paddock towards the river! Maybe it had been fishing in someone's pond?! Poured with rain and most people scurried back to their cars for cover. I had a phone call about a Dusky Warbler that had just been found behind the northern side of the car park, between the pine trees and sallows – I joined the finder, but couldn't find it again.

Left the car park and headed to the reserve car parks – the road is atrocious at the moment and full of pot holes. It couldn't have happened on a worse day....... a film company (with permission) had filled half of the NOA car park with two massive motor home (but longer) type vehicles and other vehicles and apparently before I arrived, both NOA and NWT car parks were like sardines. I parked up on the NWT car park by the large sycamore and waited with others to try and see the Pallas's Warbler, which had been seen here today, but no luck with that. Headed to NOA and had much more luck! Several birders along the bank, had just seen the NOA Pallas's Warbler. Sophie pointed out a smart Brambling perched on the very top of the birch tree. I eventually saw it in the sycamore (growing nicely now, after it was cut almost to the ground a few years back) by the pond in front of the observatory! Fabulous bird, but it zipped off towards the pines west, so didn't get any pictures. There were lots of Goldcrests feeding in this sycamore which was magical to watch.

Blackcaps feeding in the scrub at Holme NOA
Brambling at Holme NOA

I sat in Richardson Hide for a while and had a lovely time. Photographed a male and female Blackcap basking in the sunshine and feeding on blackberries and also managed to photograph the Brambling on a dead tree! The light after all the rain showers today, was stunning. Headed back to my car and parked up by the 5-bar gate and walked around the NWT Forestry. As soon as I climbed up onto the sea wall, I watched in wonder at the most stunning double rainbow developed in moody skies and sunshine. A few other people witnessed this too and we were all snapping pictures! Headed to the Forestry in hope of finding that one mega bird, but didn't. Several Redwings and Blackbirds seen and that was about it. But, I did flush a Woodcock! Returned to my car and headed back to the village car park.

Rainbow over the Saltings at Holme
Rainbow over the marshes at Holme

Moody skies over Holme Beach
Overlooking the marshes at Holme (Church on horizon)
Complete Double Rainbow at Holme
Coastal footpath, east towards Holme Reserves

Complete Double Rainbow at Holme

The light was disappearing fast now and the bluetail had obviously gone to roost. Looking at my watch at just after 6pm, I realised how excited Andy must have been when he found his Red-flanked Bluetail at 6pm, knowing that it was just about to get dark – congratulations to him! Skeins of Pink-footed Geese filled the skies to end my long but exciting day. What will tomorrow bring?!

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