woensdag 26 oktober 2011

25 oktober 2011 - Dudes day out

It's been a few weeks since Frank and I birded together, and with the Red-flanked Bluetail (Blauwstaart) still present at Castricum we hatched a plan to head to the coast, and maybe we would even bump into our own rarity at the same time.

We had lots to catch up on from the last month or so, and i spent most of my time chatting away while Frank actually tried really hard to find some birds...

Thankfully Frank has a smartphone, so we wove our way through the woodland and dunes towards the location where the Bluetail had been hanging about. Aside from some crazy old dog walking lady (who seemed to have forgotten her dogs) we soon an adult Goshawk, followed by a ringtail Hen Harrier, plenty of Redwing and Fieldfare overhead and still lots of optimism.

The ringing station at Castricum was in full swing and the loop tape of singing Dusky Warbler, Bluetail, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Yellow-browed etc was a little offputting. We were joined by a few other birders, and one of the resident ringers brought us a Yellow-browed Warbler

I was just chatting to a lady birder when she mentioned to me that she had missed the bird twice already and that it was often seen flying across a clearing, at which point a small bird flew across, which Frank had also clocked. Frank had seen the flanks, but there was still a tense 15 minutes before i then had a point blank encounter, for less than a second with the naked eye....then it was picked up by another birder briefly, then by Frank and i again briefly, before it finally settled on the fence and showed well for 10 minutes. Aside from the Winspit bird in 1993 the only other UK bird i had seen was in 1999 in Cornwall, close to a Chimney Swift. Elsewhere in Europe i have seen them several times in Finland and further afield as migrant and breeder in Mongolia, and on passage in Beidaihe. They are an early spring migrant so we never saw large numbers in China. Their status in the Netherlands is quite different from that in the UK (30+ records last year?) with only a handful of truly twitchable records. They are one of my favourite birds and i would rather see a female or young bird than an adult male. That combination of flank colour, tail, pale throat, large eye and jizz make them instantly attractive.
We also saw a couple of Rough-legged Buzzards before retiring to the Pancake House for ham and cheese pancakes....
Franks enthusiasm was still high and he suggested we had a scan over the sea before checking for any migrants forced down by the rain.
We drove to the main car park at Castricum aan zee and after eventually deciding that €3.5 was rather steep for 2 dudes that wanted to see a Great Skua (Frank) or a Razorbill (me) we paid our money and thought we would check out the car park vegetation. Frank was now even more excited, raving about how good the bushes looked....i agred with him, while secretly thinking it looked birdless....we saw nothing, and i joked that we would still be stood there 2 hours later seeing nothing, so i started with another dull story about a bird tour, when suddenly we both picked up an interesting calling phyllosc in the distance. It sounded a bit Yellow-browed like but not quite right. I mentioned to Frank that there was a good chance that it was a Pallas's Warbler, at which point i saw a small bird fly along the dunes and disappear behind some elder/buckthorn scrub....panic....couldn't see anything, and now it had gone silent....after about 10 minutes we tried playing the tape for Pallas's and sure enough it responded, but we still couldn't see it, and it didn't sound very close. We kept looking and amazingly the bird popped up right in front of me (the scrub was devoid of other birds). The first views were of a striking super, yellow tinted in front of the eye, nice green mantle and wings, clean white underparts and central crown stripe and a flash of rump. This was probably in less than 5 seconds as i was calling to Frank that it was a Pallas's. Frank saw it then too and then i ran to the car to get my camera....kiss of death and although Frank then had a really good view of it again, and it called a few more times it never showed well to the camera. Still, we weren't complaining, a Dutch tick and finds tick for both of us, what a buzz!
We did then have time for a quick look over the sea, seeing several Red-throated Divers, a Great Skua (dude), some mega distant auks that were probably Razorbills (in Dorset i wouldn't have thought twice about it), a Hen Harrier was seen to the north and on the journey home we saw another near Amsterdam as well as a Great Egret.
A quality day, top birds, and yet more laughs. Just want to get out there again now and find something else before i go away on sunday. 

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