Saturday, 23 November 2013

Two Firecrests in York!

Firecrest is a rare/scarce passage migrant in the York Area and is far from annual. 2013 will go down as a bumper year in the York area. This year has seen birds reported on the south side of York, right in the city centre, and at Skipwith Common. Three birds, all single observer records and either untwitchable or just not seen again (but considered 'good records' by good birders so not in question). These have proved very frustrating to try and catch up with though. Lots of hours walking round looking for them with no joy!

Mid-week last week news came out of a Firecrest photographed at Redhouse Wood on the west of York (it was actually photographed last weekend but remained a mystery until a few days later). Anyway, it was seen on Tuesday morning and afternoon, Wednesday morning and Friday morning. I spent 3 hours there on Wednesday afternoon but dipped it. Maybe it was a morning bird?

I went back this morning, got there near first light and waited with a few other local birders who'd come to look for it. A couple of hours passed with no sign of the bird, but distraction in the form of a very smart Kingfisher (a little out of context in the middle of a wood!), Bullfinch, Marsh Tit, Lesser Redpoll, Long-tailed Tit, Jay, Fieldfare and lots of Goldcrest. I started to feel a bit disheartened, surely I couldn't dip it again!

As the sun moved round and came out a bit more a new flock of tits and crests moved through and came to the small pool to bathe/drink. It was here that the Firecrest suddenly appeared. Firecrest is my favourite British bird so I always enjoy seeing them. In this context I was extra happy! It dropped down to the water and as it was low down another bird caught my eye, it was a Firecrest. But I was already looking at the Firecrest???!!! After a half-second of disbelief I realised there was two Firecrest, I'd just found a second bird! Result!

One Firecrest in the local context is big, two is huge - possibly unheard of? I need to check.

I got another couple of birders onto the two birds together as I didn't want to be the only person to be seeing/claiming two birds! They moved into the nearby Silver Birch trees that were draped in the bright sun where they actively fed and showed well, always moving away from us though. I grabbed a couple of record shots (below) but was unable to get both birds in the shot at the same time unfortunately. Did get an interesting in-flight shot!

Firecrest record shot (Andy Walker)

Firecrest record shot (Andy Walker)

It really makes me wonder how many Firecrest (and other interesting birds) must be out there, in a local context....

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