Today was a red letter day, not because I got a lifer or a UK tick or even a Kent tick, but a Bockhill tick that wipes away the memory of a nasty dip on 25th August 2006, when I missed one by a couple of minutes in almost the same place. This time, thanks to the generously prompt phone call from Jack I was lucky enough to see the bird before it left. Jack Chantler is the best example I know of someone who finds good birds, some of which are megas (remember the Blue-cheeked Bee-eater) because they work hard at their local patch. It does help to have a good local patch, but like many there are lots of days when you don't see very much and the winners are those that still get out of bed the next day and try again. This morning Jack was counting Wood Pigeons when he saw the Cistcola fly in from over the sea. Giving up on that essential task he alerted the local birders and the bird did the rest by staying a while. Well done and thanks Jack.
I was feeling sorry for myself this morning, worrying about the emergence of a cold that Pam had generously passed on, and only got moving when Pam passed on Jack's message. It didn't take long to join the nine people already looking at a the grass near small bush where it had dropped in a few minutes previously. After a short wait a small bird flew up from about 20 yards from the spot and gave the characteristic Zit Zit Zit call. It didn't fly very far and after a few minutes of peering into the bushes a small bird was seen moving through a small Wayfarer Tree. As it got nearer to the top the Zitting Cisticola (aka Fan-tailed Warbler) could be seen, partially hidden.
Moving slowly to one side, it was possible to see the heavily streaked upper-parts, I think the bill was all dark, this would make it a male.
It turned s if to look behind and I hoped that it was going to go to the top of the bush and give some better views, but this wasn't to be. Suddenly it was off and flying, zit zit zit. Jack reassured us that it was tired and wouldn't go far, but although a couple of time it looked to be circling back, it got higher and higher and eventually disappeared to the south west. This was much like the 2006 bird, but with he important difference, I got there to see it go!
More pictures are available here: