Monday, 22 October 2012

Mega twitch

From a birding perspective I have been increasingly restless since my return from the Isle of Lewis. Birding locally has been very quiet with absolutely nothing of note. I drove over to the Black isle a few days ago for a 'mini-twitch' as a rather unseasonal dotterel had been found amongst a flock of several hundred golden plover. The bird was rather distant although through the scope it looked very neat. This was followed by a run up the coast to Tarbet ness in the hope of finding an 'eastern' migrant. The weather was fine and although no major find was on the cards we got onto a number of birds including a couple of blackcaps, a couple of chiffchaffs, two goldcrests and a whitethroat- not too bad considering the date and latitude! Other interesting birds on account of the fact that they are never encountered in the west, included a tree sparrow, three magpies and a number of yellowhammers

Tarbet Ness lighthouse
Anyway, still feeling rather unfulfilled, I planned my first major twitch since April (when I went for the Blagdon squacco heron). I left Ullapool at 0400 on Sunday morning with fellow birder Richard Rafe, in the hope of connecting with the Olivaceous warbler at Kilminning castle in Fife. We could not have asked for a better day to go- despite an hour of occasional fog banks near Pitlochry and Dundee the journey was as good as they get. The sunrise was gorgeous and we arrived on site at approx. 08:20. Half a dozen birders were onsite working through various trees and scrubby areas but having parked the car we were almost immediately on the Eastern olivaceous warbler- pure luck as I glanced towards the bushes where the sun was shining! The bird was fairly active and showed well although it proved difficult for me to capture with my camera. Mind you I was not so brazen as some folk and kept a reasonable distance from the bird so as not to risk flushing it! 

Word quickly spread and numbers of birders built slowly. As there was no word of the Radde's warbler we decided to look for it and unbelievably located this bird only an hour after getting on the mega! It was a wonderfully marked individual and a lovely bird in its' own right. Speaking to other birders we learnt that the red-breasted flycatcher was also seen that morning so we headed off from the throng to try and locate it. After initially heading over the road to the wrong site we then headed back to the correct area and Richard quickly got onto the bird. It flitted through the sycamores in typical fly-catcher fashion but gave good views. Unbelievably I got three UK life list ticks in 3 hours! Sweet birding indeed and a truly memorable morning when everything just fell in to place! Happy days indeed!

eastern olivaceous warbler

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