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Friday 16 October 2020

Searching For Rares At Thornham & Holme! Plus TWO Red-flanked Bluetails!

Robin sweetly singing to me along Marsh Lane, Holme 


I was completely exhausted last night and couldn't even write my blog post up! I didn't set the alarm either – I slept right through until 9.30am and still felt tired! So no dawn start today! I panicked when I saw the time and breathed a sigh of relief after checking the pager hadn't bleeped up with any megas yet! Holme NOA had trapped and rung a Red-flanked Bluetail, surely this had to be a second or even third bird?! It took a long time to get out of the house. Washed up last night's stuff as was too tired to do, made flasks, sorted food etc. Had breakfast, shower, washed hair and packed up the car ready to leave at a moment's notice. Then I sat and wrote yesterday's blog post up and edited and added all the pictures, which took far too long!

Left the house at 2.30pm! I wanted to find my own birds, so drove to Thornham and parked up at 'Greenway'. Although the sun was out earlier, it was now raining! Lots of Goldcrests feeding amongst the sycamore leaves at the beginning of the path that runs east around a big copse and house. There must have been a Pallas's Warbler in there somewhere! Walked along the path – the further I walked the less birds there were, which was disappointing. Overlooking the garden of the big house from the path always looks so exciting, you can imagine a bluetail in there or even better a Siberian Rubythroat! I scanned the garden and all the fallen trees and scrub several times – there must have been some good birds in the past, the sea, marsh and reedbed link directly to this garden, a welcome refuge for exhausted migrants from afar! This garden so close to the sea, reminds me of the one that overlooks the cliff at Hoswick in Shetland, where I saw a Red-breasted Flycatcher and a Red-backed Shrike last year. I had to change my intended walk, as there was a very noisy barking dog in the not too far distance, which made me feel very uneasy, so retraced my steps back to my car. It was still raining and part of me wished I had stayed at home to rest properly, before the weekend's birding. Parked the car in Titchwell RSPB's car park and watched the sycamores and bushes for any potential migrants in the rain, but none seen.

Highland Cattle alongside Marsh Lane, Holme

Headed to Holme. Parked up my car along Marsh Lane, next to the (now padlocked) kissing gate that leads to Holme Marsh Reserve NWT (village hides). The entire reserve and hides still remain closed sadly. Ambled along Marsh Lane, right to the end at the farm gate in the middle of the marsh. Two Highland Cattle and sheep made a beautiful scene. A lovely selection of birds here including lots of Redwings, Blackbirds, Robins and a couple of Goldcrests. A Marsh Harrier was flying over the hides and pool area and whilst scanning this area, I picked up 7 House Martins flying west, which I could hardly believe! I found a Stonechat distantly sitting in brambles and a couple of Mute Swans were on the marsh. A beautiful Robin flew close to me in the hedge and watched me as it sang with twinkling eyes, it was so lovely and made me think of my dear mother. Pink-footed Geese flew over as I made my way back in the rain to my car.

I went into Holme Churchyard to find some birds, but respectively left quickly, when I discovered an elderly gentleman was paying his respects to someone – he was talking in a sad tone. Luckily he didn't see me and I sneaked out unnoticed hopefully. Well, it was obvious where I was going next! I returned to the village car park in Holme to see if I could see the Red-flanked Bluetail again.

Pulled up in the car park to find no one standing by the far hedge in the bluetail's favoured area. I was told by Andy and Phil that the RFB was by the pines on the edge of the golf course, next to the car park. I joined a few people at this spot and saw it flitting around, well to be exact it was being chased by a Robin, again! A few minutes later I found myself alone and I saw the RFB land on a branch, it was then booted out by another Robin, a moment (literally) passed and it seemingly appeared again on another branch! But, the Robin had chased it out into the car park and I couldn't quite believe that the bluetail had returned that quickly?! Hmmmm...... Nice to bump into Trevor Girling who turned up and we had a brief view of the bluetail being chased by a Robin again! The light was fading quickly now. I left and walked back to my car in the car park.

I put the camera away, but had a quick scan across to the back hedge and saw what I just knew was the bluetail again. So got the camera out again and marched across the field to the hedge. Tested the camera out and realised it wouldn't focus/work now, as too dark. I stood almost next to the hedge and the Red-flanked Bluetail appeared almost in front of me! It was 6.10pm. I did get a picture, but it was completely blurry. Then to my left I saw a Robin chasing ANOTHER Red-flanked Bluetail into the hedge on the north side!!! I looked back at the bird in front of me and it was still perched up on the branch! So I had just seen TWO Red-flanked Bluetails together – I never thought I would witness that! WOW! Now, with the bird ringed at Holme Bird Observatory, there surely must be three birds? There was also one seen in the horse paddocks today, was there four? Crazy!

The winds switch to North West and then back to North East tomorrow. Sunday is North West all day and switches to South West at around 8pm and then stays South West every day until the end of the month, according to the BBC forecast. I hate to say this, but Autumn migration and the chance of that mega we dream about, could come to an abrupt end on Sunday! Enjoy the weekend and here's hoping for an exciting time! Good night!

Will someone find one of these?

Or maybe this?

Will it be me or will it be you?

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