Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Rustic Bunting & Barred Warbler - Flamborough

I managed to get away from work at a reasonable time today and since the Empidonax Flycatcher was a no show I thought I'd head to the coast - Flamborough is fairly close so I thought I'd go there instead of Norfolk. A quick call and Dave made the short journey from Harrogate to York and we set off to the coast.

On the way I joked with Dave how I'd be annoyed if the best bird of the day turned out to be a Red-flanked Bluetail (we'd seen 3 in the last 2 years) and I said I'd much prefer something like a Rustic or a Pine Bunting....!

We decided to try the North Landing area of Flamborough Head, a section I'm not too familiar with, despite spending lots of time at the other areas on the headland. We pulled up, and set off birding. We noticed a nice looking area called (Holmes' Gut - I think) and were called over to look at a tail-less Yellow-browed Warbler by a guy who had arrived a few minutes before us (John). Whilst watching the warbler it became immediately evident that there was a lot of birds moving through either feeding up or flying through, several Brambling, Redstart, Whinchat, Song Thrush, Redwing, Robin, Dunnock, Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Blackbird, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Sand Martin, Swallow, Tree and House Sparrow, Linnet, Goldfinch, Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting.

As we stood in the open area we were constantly keeping an eye on an elder bush, ever expecting a Barred Warbler to pop out. Dave saw a Reed Bunting whilst I was looking at Whinchat and Redstart, as I took my scope down we all noticed a bird fly up into the elder bush 30m in front of us, I put my scope straight up onto it and bang, RUSTIC BUNTING!!! Just as I was opening my mouth to announce it, John (rather calmly stated "Rustic Bunting"). The bird, a 1st winter, was sat in the elder bush next to a Reed Bunting giving excellent scope views (all three of us saw it in the scope) as it preened. The features noted included a peaked crown, a buffy supercillium, white cheek 'spot' to rear of orangy/brown cheek, white median coverts (this with the reddish/brown colouration of the closed wing looked a little Tree Sparrowish). The Rustic was a similar size to the Reed Bunting it was sat next too, the side of the breast was in view briefly, it looked a little blotchy/streaky - reminiscent of American Sparrows I've seen. After a short time the Rustic and Reed Buntings flew towards us, looped closely before dropping over a hawthorn hedge and out of view (presumably into the stubble field behind where we were watching).

We phoned it out immediately and within 20 minutes people were arriving to look for it. A nervous 90 minutes passed before Rich Baines et al re-found it further along the stubble field - it was seen by several other people at this point I believe.

Very satisfied with this, Dave and I decided to try the area we had originally planned to visit near North Moor Farm, this area was full of Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff with large numbers of Linnet and Goldfinch (constantly hunted by Sparrowhawk and Kestrel). A large bird shot across the road over our head and I shouted BARRED WARBLER, this bird gave us the typical Barred Warbler run around as it completed its small circuit of hedgerow and garden, before eventually giving itself up and showing well, out in the open in the hawthorn hedge. A fly-by Peregrine and 2 Barn Owl rounded off the day nicely!

The day had started disappointingly with news that the Empidonax Flycatcher had gone, however ended on a high after finally seeing one of my bogey birds! The fact that I'd co-found it made it even sweeter, especially considering my conversation with Dave on the way to Flamborough!!! Roll on autumn...

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