Sunday, 3 April 2011

A Day Of Two Halves

It was a decent day weather-wise, the only fly in the ointment being some mist, particularly on the hills, but otherwise mild with a gentle breeze and prolonged spells of sunshine. It was however a little more dismal on the birding front, with nothing to report except for a small party of c14

Walking the West Cliff a little later what looked like the washings from a ships tanks could be seen more clearly.

The penalties for such actions are most severe, often running into hundreds of thousands of pounds, so it was hard to envisage any ships Captain or Chief Engineer allowing that to happen. My only other theory on the matter was that a ships supply of fire fighting foam, comprising mainly of Ox blood, may have been jettisoned as this has to be renewed periodically.

Apart from the odd Meadow Pipit and a few singing Skylarks there still had been no bird action at all (not a single migrant) and my day was already half over. That's when Dave Foot, John Down and his partner Mo welcomed me with "you're a jammy git, you know when to turn up", as they were looking at a freshly arrived

male Pied Flycatcher.

It was totally unapproachable so here to show a better picture

are these 2 shots from the archive. Further down the path on the recently ploughed Observatory fields was yet another

Black Redstart (a good year so far for this species)

which was both 'calling' and 'singing' this being quite unusual.

In the same field a White Wagtail

the Continental cousin of our own Pied Wagtail, which is only a sub-species so not counted on most people's lists.

While at the same location a numbers these plants are in bloom which I believe to be Borage. In addition there had also been a couple of Swallows, a Common Redstart plus a few Willow warblers and Chiffchaff, but it was now time to go home. Within half a mile of my house Ricky Lambert phoned to tell me that a

Short-toed Lark had just been found in the same field so it was a quick return from whence I came. The walk from the bus stop to the Obs is a relatively short one, but seems endless when a 'rarity' is in prospect,

but the signs were good as I crossed the brow of the hill to see a dozen or so birders seemingly looking at the bird? They were, and very soon so was I but as the photos show it remained distant and quite soon it disappeared and I don't know if it was relocated.

Hence the late post today!

The GB Year List now stands at 203

The finder of this bird and the Hoopoe of a few days ago was Richard Newton, the PBO's resident farmer, who found both under the same circumstances, while driving the tractor. This was he sowing maize in the same field as the Lark.

and to end today's post I can bring you some photographs of another

Short-toed Lark only this time a good deal closer. On 22nd May 2005 a fellow crew member on the Buchan Alpha Oil Rig stationed 120 miles north east of Aberdeen in the North Sea, alerted me to the presence of a small brown bird on the helicopter deck. It remained in this spot for the remaining daylight hours, then went to roost in the warmth of one of the deck lights.

At about mid-night I caught and photographed it then released it at daylight after which it was not seen again.

All relevant details and photographs were sent to Andrew Thorpe the North Sea Bird Club Recorder and after adjudication by the Scottish Rarities Committee was accepted as the first, and still only, record for the North Sea.