Why do I do these crazy things? That was the question I was asking myself when my alarm went off at stupid o’clock (2am)! But a 1st winter male Common Yellowthroat was beckoning me and with a window of opportunity in my shifts and a good weather forecast for today it was ‘Twitch-on!!’.With all my gear swapped over into Col’s car we began the long journey south to Newport in South Wales. The M6 was predictably dead which was great, but the M5 had loads of roadworks with average speed cameras keeping us down to 40mph in places. We were unable to go the way we wanted to as the M50 was closed so we had to continue down the M5 to the M4 and then across the severn road bridge – which cost us an extortionate £6. But by 0730hrs we were on site at Rhiwderin and ready for action. Well that was after I realised I’d made the schoolboy error of leaving my bloody bins back home, I’d forgot to put them in Col’s car when we swapped cars. What a flippin’ doughnut I am. Oh well.
There was probably only about 50 birders at this time and as we spread out along the field it wasn’t long before the bird was located in an area of brambles and scrub near to the top of the hill. We stared into this clump of brambles for about half an hour and wondered whether it had maybe disappeared out the back, but then there it was, and quick as a flash I got my scope onto it. Flippin’ eck what a stunning bird this was!
During the next 4 hours I saw and heard it several times, but this was one skulky critter which was proving very difficult to pin down. However with patience I managed to get some excellent scope views, but they were often brief and obscurred by vegetation, I even managed a few record shots which was a bonus….
It’s always nice when a stunning looking mega yank like this is accessible on the mainland to pretty much everyone - and not just cheque-book twitchers who can seemingly go for everything at the drop of a hat… Cheers to the local birders who negotiated access. Top effort!