15th June 2017 – Blyth’s Reed Warbler, Siddick Ponds, Cumbria

Blimey. Two Cumbrian rarities and two successful ‘twitches’ in the space of a month…what’s going on?

Yesterday afternoon/evening, a Blyth’s Reed Warbler was found and identified singing at Siddick Ponds near Workington. A 1st for Cumbria. And big congrats to the finder.

Of course I was predictably at work yesterday evening when it was identified, and frustratingly I was also working most of today too. Basically my window of opportunity was unfortunately restricted to a rushed evening visit. But at least it had done the decent thing and stopped overnight and after hearing that it was still singing and showing well this morning I set off after work in high hopes – thinking that this would be a straightforward twitch. Think again Darren!

The drive from Carlisle to Siddick took us through monsoon-like conditions, torrrential rain and gusty winds….hmmm, this wasn’t looking good at all. Bloody annoying when it’s been nice all day whilst stuck at work. Anyway it was still raining when we arrived at the retail park so it seemed pointless rushing to the bird. After all it would most likely be hankered down out of this grotty weather so my first priority was food seeing though I hadn’t eaten since lunch!

We then made our way to the spot where the bird had been favouring and even as we approached the birders it became obvious from their body language that the bird wasn’t showing. I soon identified some familiar faces amongst the birders, Dave Thexton, Ronnie Irving, Colin Raven and Gary Agar, and it was really good to catch up with them, but I was also dis-heartened to learn that some birders had been present since 3pm and still not seen the bird…it was now 8pm…

Anyway, to cut a long story short the bird had become what birders say as ‘extremely elusive’. This basically means it was being a skulky little b@:*#d! It hadn’t sang for a considerable time and was only calling occasionally and I’d resigned myself to dipping out. Then, I got the sign from Colin that they had it, and for the next 45 minutes or so I caught occasional and brief views of various bits of the bird – kind of like putting a jigsaw puzzle together – a head here, a primary projection there…and then, just as the scrub and reeds caught the last burst of low evening sunshine the bird preened in view. Well sort of. Even then it was mostly obscured. I hoped it would clamber up just a few more inches of the vegetation and burst into song but alas it did not. Instead it buggered off back into the undergrowth and was gone again. Maybe it had decided that Workington was not to it’s liking, it certainly seemed an odd and sudden change in it’s behaviour from earlier in the day and yesterday. And with negative news from the site so far today it does maybe seem that it has chose to move on. Maybe, for the latter half of the day it was concentrating on feeding up for it’s journey rather than singing and showing off.

Here are two really crap record shots… better than nowt I suppose. Just.

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