6th May 2012 – Ring Ouzels, Chats, and fluffy chicks

My weekend off – hoorah! Now, do I go for a potential first for Britain at Flamborough, or do I stay local? For me, it was a no-brainer, I’m usually keen to see a new species for my British list if I get the opportunity, but I can’t get excited about this one. The bird in question is a potential Atlas Flycatcher. It has been present at Flamborough for over a week, it has even been trapped, ringed and man-handled, and still no-one can tell what it is. A couple of feathers ‘fell’ out when it was ringed and now twitchers everywhere are eagerly awaiting the DNA results to come back to see if they get a tick. And that’s all it is really isn’t it? A tick. It’s turning into the bloomin’ Jeremy Kyle show, waiting for the DNA tests to come back to find out who the parents are. Is this really how birding is going? Scary. Call me an old-fashioned birder if you like but to me a bird should be identifiable in the field whilst you are watching it, or at worse in the hand if it’s trapped. Having to take DNA to get a firm id is a step too far me thinks, certainly not what makes me ‘tick’ anyway! So there you go, I didn’t go, and it won’t bother me in the slightest if it is an Atlas Flycatcher.

* DNA results showed it was a PIED FLYCATCHER! Ouch.

Actually if twitching is your thing, then Cumbria is definitely not the place to be – it’s a rarity-free zone here! I must’ve slightly mellowed with age I think, but I can’t lie – I would love to see another good scarcity or rarity locally! Patch birding can get very frustrating when you take a look at the quality of birds arriving elsewhere around the country, but I know that good birds can and do turn up on the Solway, so I shall just keep on perservering. As if to prove the point, first thing this morning I set off on foot for the marsh, and within a few hundred yards of home I stumbled across this stunning wee chappy…

Ok it’s only a Whinchat, but what a stunning looking bird, and a patch tick too. If Whinchat was a rarity birders would be turning up in their hundreds to admire it, but it isn’t, so I had him all to myself. Cool.

And then, with picnic packed and family in the car, we set off east in search of one or two of Cumbria’s specialities. A few Redstarts were immediately obvious, including this female with nest material…

The males however proved trickier to photograph, these being my best efforts…

As we climbed out of the woodland the habitat changed and within a few hundred yards I heard the bird I’d been hoping to see most of all – Ring Ouzel.

A few birds were present on the lower slopes, and again with a little patience I had probably the best views of this species that I’ve ever had…

Red Grouse called and Lapwings and Curlews were displaying in good numbers. Dapper Wheatears were also present…

Some stunning views too…

Superb scenery and great birding – perfect.

Back home and many birds are busily feeding young or getting ready to nest. Three out of my four nest boxes are currently occupied by Tree Sparrows, the fourth has Blue Tits in it. And just look at the Mistle Thrushes, they have ballooned in the space of a week!… Check out their funky hair-do’s!

Babby Robin

Closeby in the village some neighbours kindly invited me into their garden to view their Owl box which this year has three youngsters inside, here’s one of them wondering whether to jump or not… 

What you looking at?!

 A great couple of days.

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One Response to 6th May 2012 – Ring Ouzels, Chats, and fluffy chicks

  1. What a brilliant piece, and very well illustrated too. The penultimate Rouzel shot is a belter. I agree about the Flycatcher, what a load of faff about not a lot. Still, it takes all sorts etc. Patching is a pain at present over in the NE too. The adjacent area to mine is awash with good birds, but where I am, it’s flat (late arrivals in small numbers and not staying long). Drat, drat and double drat!

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