Wednesday, 10 October 2012


Uni commitments in the morning but the afternoon was free so I was off down to the Lizard for some quality birding on a relatively local patch.  It took a 10 mile bike ride from Penryn to Helston before catching a bus down to the Lizard to finally arrive within striking distance of the Paddyfield Warbler now remaining for its third day.

 stunning coastline

 looking towards The Lizard

I got off a stop late unfortunately so had to run from near the lighthouse all the way north along the coastal path to reach the cove, not before falling into the mud and mud-skiing down the slopes (not as fun as it sounds with a steep drop to ones death if you take a false step or slide for that matter).  Anyway, I arrived on seen with an audience of 3 twitchers, I had missed its last appearance by about a minute.  Thankfully after the considerable effort I had invested the PADDYFIELD WARBLER Acrocephalus agricola popped out of cover and showed amazingly (on a warblers standards!) and we enjoyed relatively good views as it hoped around in the low bracken, occasionally climbing some of the stems and showing its tattered plumage off to our delighted eyes! A few digi-scope shots don't pay testament to its good behaviour. (lifer number 1).

a rather good digi-scope shot I think of the Paddyfield Warbler!

eyeing me through the foliage

Features of note I had not previously seen in the books include a faint/thin streaking on the cap.  News soon broke on one of the twitchers pager (I currently rely entirely on other peoples knowledge as I don't have a pager myself) that an Ortolan Bunting had turned up back a Housel Bay!  I had literary just run past the spot on the way to the warbler.  Back along the mud track I went where I managed to pick out two birders wandering around a stubble field.  Running the last leg of the journey I arrived to some negative news (the news any twitcher dreads), NO SIGN.  As I was asking a lady about its last whereabouts I noticed something interesting moving along the hedgerow over her should, I raised my bins it was a "SHRIKE!"  Quickly got the scope out and soon had it IDed as a 1st win. RED-BACKED SHRIKE Lanius collurio, I thought I had just self found my own shrike when the man came up and said, ooh that's been here ages (or words to that effect), a little downcast after such a brief flurry of excitement   Anyway, the bird showed incredibly well, up to 20 feet away making it possible to study the exact detail of the plumage, in short it was a stunner!

Red-backed Shrike, the stunner! the complicated plumage make this an even more interesting bird in my opinion to the stonking males

a picture is worth more than a thousand words

down to earth again, looking for the Ortolan, can any of you see it?  You shouldn't be able to we're looking in the wrong field!

My afternoons excursion was becoming rather productive the only nagging feeling of the not-yet-seen Ortolan was on my mind.  Then the totally unexpected happened, LGRE appeared over the hill.  Within moments he was on the scene  I had already done a thorough check of the two adjacent fields for the bunting a fruitless search but with Lee on the cards I hoped for the best.  Together, we tramped over the fields once again before I followed Lee in our search of some of the other stubble fields on the opposite side of the road.  Nothing.  2 Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe were the only birds I could find before I headed back into town (I had to look at the bus timetable in preparation for my return).  A final return to the stubble fields as I had a few hours to spare.  I was walking back through one of the fields I had just come through, passed Lee again and a few seconds later I had the ORTOLAN BUNTING Emberiza hortulana perched totally unexpectedly on the top of on of the banks covered in bramble.  I scrambled for my camera and phone trying to call Lee and digi-scope the bird simultaneously (not recommended)  but couldn't get through there was no reception!  I did the unthinkable and sprinted fast away from the bird shouted to the closest birder who shouted even further up the street for Lee and within seconds most of the twitchers were on seen and basking in the joy of seeing the Ortolan.

finally, hard work searching is rewarded with my first ever Ortolan Bunting, even better when your the one who refound it!

When I say most, two other birders blissfully unaware of the news were still wandering around some of the fields quite a distance away.  I did the unthinkable again, sprinted down the road to get them but on my return the bird had gone.  It was once again up to me to relocate it, whilst the small crowd of twitchers overlooked the bank, I climbed on top in the hope of locating it on the other side, the onlookers managed to see it again perched on to for some time, but me standing only 30 feet away had no idea where it was.  It took some time again, following another period off blankness until I finally realised it was perched on the opposite side of the bank to the twitchers only I could see it perched on the bramble.  Unfortunately this was the last I saw of it as I signaled to the other birders, it decided to fly some distance over the stubble towards the town were we lost it.  In all, a rather exciting experience to relocate the bunting against all the odds!  Also very nice to get a thorough praising from Lee shaking my hand vigorously for the year tick I'd just got him!(it was a pleasure if you are reading this post Lee).  I was in the same state of shock, it was a lifer for me!  Now the dreaded bus trip back, followed by another 10 mile bike trip from Helston back to Uni.  To convince myself I wasn't dreaming, I took a final walk down one of the country lanes in a half-hearted attempt looking for Yellow-browed Warbler.  No success.  My final memory of the day was cycling back in the rain, fog and dark tasting the salty sweat on my lips, it was the taste of SUCCESS!!!

1 comment:

  1. Mega day Samuel, a fantastic account too. That taste of success must still be as potent as well!

    Well done on some fab birds; pity that RBS wasn't a self-found bird, but the quality sounds like it made up for that.

    Best wishes,