Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater

I'd nearly finished going through my moths this morning when my phone rang. Jack was there and told me to get up to the monument as he had seen and heard a "Bee-eater".

When I arrived he was just below the Bluebirds Tea-room focused on the hedge on the opposite side of the field. Bee-eaters are good birds but there was something in Jack's excited beckoning that made me hurry to his telescope. I'd focused on the bird and I was taking in the sight when it took off. We watched it fly across the field and disappear into the Paddock. At this point we had both realised that we had a Mega although I must admit I was somewhat confused. I'd seen Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters of both sub-species, in Africa and the Middle East and they were always a much greener colour not this very bluey green that we had watched streak across the field.
When Phil arrived and we pieced together what we had got on the bird it was obvious that it was a Blue-cheeked although we were unsure about what plumage it was in. As it had had a central tail projection it had to be an adult but we needed to re-find it. Frustratingly we heard it call on at least three occasions without seeing it. The call is very similar to European Bee-eater to my ear although Phil, who has phenomenal hearing, said that it was a bit less flutey and "liquid".

Richard arrived and he and Phil decided to walk round the field and across to the Freedown and up to the gold course. After a while Jack and I heard three calls and still couldn't see it. No long after came the message from Richard that they were watching it flying round near "Orchid Bottom".

This time it was more cooperative and spent enough time in the area to allow quite a few people to get to St Margaret's to see it.

It always managed to land with a twig partly in the way.

When it looked upwards the chestnut throat patch was was very obvious.

I'm not sure if the two toned primaries are indicative of some moult or not.

Unlike several of the photographers with quicker reactions none of my flight photos were any use, I just could seem to get the focus locked on when it was flying.

I went off on a few sorties, once or twice it seemed to be on its way but did return, even after once almost disappearing out over the sea, before sweeping back inland over the golf course.

It did catch a few things, it isn't easy to see what this is but through the scope it looked like a small dragonfly, probably a Common Darter.

Looking at BWP I think that this is an adult in worn plumage. It seems that the green fades to a bluish colour from June onwards.


Gavin Haig said...

What a stunner, Tony! I am very envious! Great photos too. Superb!

Anonymous said...

Just checked in hoping to read that you'd found it. Next best thing to be in on the id-ing of it. Bet you had a great day and probably now having a pretty good evening to celebrate.

John Foster

Robert Laughton said...

Well done Tony on some great shots!

Rob Laughton

The Urban Birder said...

Amazing find!

Birdingben said...

Stunning bird,Tony.
Bet parking was a bit tight with all the tourist mobile homes!

Terry said...

Congratulations, Tony! A stunning bird and definitely on many people's "most wanted" list... Great photos, too - a real stonker! Cheers, Terry

Anonymous said...

A stunning dream bird - well done mate.

Warren Baker said...

Cool looking bird tony. Great to get pics of it to, well done!

Mike Watson said...

Nice one Tony, good to show the younger generation of Morrises how it is done;) BR Mike

Adam said...

You lucky bugger! Stunning plummage, well done on getting some shots - my hands would have been shaking too much to get anything half decent!