Monday, 14 November 2011

The Z team turns up in time!

I hadn't been to see the "Eastern" Black Redstart at North Foreland. It was a cross between idleness and the fact that I had seen similar birds in the Middle East. Clements lists seven sub-species (races) of Black Redstart. The one that usually occurs here is Phoenicurus ochruros gibraltariensis, and the range of this spreads across West and Central Europe, east to Crimea and south to North Africa. This has a dark belly, while the eastern birds of the sub-species, P. o. semifrufus, (the one I'd seen in the middle east), P. o. phoenicuroides and two others have rufous bellies to various degrees. The one at North Foreland has been broadcast as P. o. phoenicuroides, although I'm not clear as to how the various eastern races are separated. One thing is that is clear is that this bird is very different from our normal wintering birds.

When I left St Margaret's it was very foggy, and very dull, but knowing that we often get different weather in our corner I thought it would be better when I got to Margate. I wasn't, but fortunately the bird was extremely confiding and was being watched by four birders when I arrived. It spend most of it's on the beach amongst the weed, and washed up rubbish.

As so many good pictures are on various websites and blogs I wasn't going to put up any of my efforts in the dull conditions of to day, but if the record is accepted it will be a UK first (unless any of the four previous records that are now rejected are reviewed), and I would be remiss at not recognising such an event.

I did occur to me that it would be useful if it was trapped and measured, as this might help alleviate any thoughts that it is a hybrid with a Common Redstart. I'm sure the biometrics would be a useful piece of evidence.

This individual is a first winter male.
Occasionally it perched up on the cliff in characteristic pose for a Black Redstart.

The "bib" is far larger than the bib on a Common Redstart and the back much darker. More of my picutures of this bird here.

On the way back I popped into SBBO for a quick natter a a cup of rosie. The news that the Jack Snipe at the Restharrow Scrape had been out and on show a little earlier was good reason for a look at the scrape for a few minutes.

Luckily Justin was in the hide when I got there and pointed out the bird, bobbing up and down amongst the reeds some distance away. It is in the middle of the picture above, but not easy to see.

It was quite obliging and did slowly work it's way towards us, sometimes in good view, sometimes completely disappearing and then suddenly breaking cover to move to the next gully a little nearer.
At one time I had high hope that it would continue it's slow progress right round to the hide, at the rate it was moving that would have taken about an hour.

This was a close as I saw it. I went into reverse and started on it's way back. Steve Ray, exhibiting much patience, was still in the hide waiting for a change of mind when I left. More Jack Snipe pictures here.

PS this post is dedicated to my friend Derek, in the hope that he may come to realise that an interest in seeing rarities isn't a birding crime.

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