Friday, 7 February 2014

Eastern Beauty...

Four days ago a remarkable record popped up on Twitter and BirdGuides of a 1st winter male Red-flanked Bluetail in Gloucestershire. I hesitated to go the day after the initial news release expecting a large crowd and a bit of a scrum to see the bird and work prevented a visit on Thursday. So today, with sunny weather forecast, I dropped my son at school and then set off for the 70 mile drive to South Gloucestershire. When I started birding in the 70's these were mythical birds, with a few records confined to the far flung reaches of the British Isles but in the last decade it's become almost annual. They still manage to draw a crowd though,  particularly in this part of the country.

I knew I'd found the right place. A mass of cars parked along a lane in the middle of nowhere was obvious from some distance away. One of the first people I met was Dave Paull, a north Devon birder and former birding pal of my late cousin. He was heading back from having seen it and all he said was "it's worth the walk" - good enough for me. After a (muddy) walk of about 1/4 of a mile I saw the crowd and when I arrived at the bird it was sitting up in a tree about 10ft away and not taking a blind bit of notice of the endless stream of bodies walking past to get a view. Someone had put down some mealworms for it and every now and again it would nip down, grab one and then head back to the trees to eat it.

It's a lovely little bird and if it stays, I may well go back to see it again. Sitting in the trees most of the time gave great bin views but didn't afford much of an opportunity for photos or video. I managed to get a little though:

Video grab: Red-flanked Bluetail: R. Harris

Small part of the crowd today

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