Monday, 10 October 2011

Fantasy Birding

Another fantastic day, and when walking in the sun in such stunning surroundings you can be forgiven if the odd day-dream flickers through your consciousness. There were birds around, but not as many as at the weekend when the visible migration was exceptional. This was well documented on the KOS Website by Jack, and there is even a picture of the assembled crew doing a seawatch.

Today there was still a good passage of House Martins and Swallows going through, but difficult to count as some seemed to be coming back to feed before continuing on their way. As group of around 12 Pied Wagtails fed together in the middle of the "big field" and Siskins could be heard passing over. My "problems" started when I got to Hope Point. There was a Dunnock, but in October why couldn't it have been Britain's first Siberian Accentor. If one could turn up in Sweden on the 10th October last year, why not Bockhill this year.
A Blue Tit interrupted my day dream, a Blue is just that and not at all easy to turn into an imaginary rarity.

But one of the Chiffchaffs, sure that could have obliged. A good date for one of the scarce or rare warblers, but still every one I looked at stubbornly remained a Chiffy.

Out at sea the slightly surreal sight of HMS Waverley paddling by added to the day. She was built in 1947 to replace her namesake, that was sunk at Dunkirk in 1940. In 1974 the The Paddle Steamer Preservation Society bought her for £1 when her operators could no longer afford to keep her going. She is now used for excursions during the summer months.

I walked on towards Kingsdown and decided to look at the Undercliff. There is often a Black Redsart there in autumn and winter and I fancied getting some photos. I didn't find one around the rocks at the beginning, a favourite place, but at the end of the path, a flick of red caught my eye as a bird landed on the sea wall. This Robin was feeding on the edge of the sea as it seeped through the wall, an unusual feeding area, but I've seen one down here before.

I've always though that this area would be perfect for finding a Pied Wheatear, it is still a week or so early for one in the south, but still possible. The cliffs looked magnificent from the end of the path, and with high-tide, hopefully any bird using the bottom of the cliffs for a feeding area would move on to the undercliff.

As I scanned I did find the adult Peregrine resting on a ledge about 300 metres away.

Then a Wheatear appeared on the sea wall. At first glance it looked just like a (Northern) Wheatear [brackets for Derek].

At second glance it still looked the same. Even if they're a common migrant they have two things going for them. They're nice looking birds, and because there are several rarities, that are very similar, they get well and truly looked at.

There is one important thing that you have to do when you are photographing a bird. You have to stay focused.
If you don't you find that the bird disappears and the white blob behind it turns into a pub. That isn't fantasy birding in this case, but a fact.

Another thought crossed my mind. The cliffs may be chalk, but after one turned up on the other side of the channel, these cliffs must be a good place for a Wallcreeper to turn up, I mean if Fairlight was suitable then Kingsdown must be a good.

A scam of the rock face did reveal another flash of red, but on the tail, not the wings, and there was my Black Redstart, determinedly staying half way up the cliff and refusing to pose like the Wheatear and Robin had done. May be next time a day dream will be fulfilled.


Derek Faulkner said...

Dear me Tony, what did you have for breakfast before you went out, all those if's and maybe's, you need to watch out, that's how twitchers start out. If you dream hard enough things do become something else - take "channel wagtails" for instance.

Tony Morris said...

Ahah! Derek, you'll find that in the end there was no stringing, unlike several other offerings we are invited to read. I hope your still saving for my case of wine!