Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Stithians then Devoran (16th January)

A morning at Stithians with my target species being the long-staying Siberian Chiffchaff.  I arrived at first light so I thought it best to try my initial efforts on the Long-tailed Duck.  It took a short while but I eventually found the 1st winter LONG-TAILED DUCK from the southern cut-of causeway looking north across the reservoir.  It was rather distant so decided to make my way along the footpath but this proved a near impossible task as it was typically in a state of pure mud.  I returned back to the causeway where I continued looking for the duck and Sibe Chiffchaff but I couldn't relocate either.  Despite looking regularly for the duck throughout the day I couldn't relocate it until about 11am but 4 Goldeneye (including 2 drakes), 2 Raven and a flock of c.70 Lapwing did fill in for the quieter period.  From the hide, I observed large numbers of Chaffinches and 2 Reed Buntings coming down to the feeders but still no Chiffchaffs.  It took me the whole morning to catch a brief view of a Chiffchaff species that I saw briefly in a hedge near the southern cut off but it vanished after only a few seconds.  From first impressions, it looked good for the reported Siberian with a paler head than nominate, subtle contrast between the olive-tinged flight feathers and milky brown nape and head (both not containing a trace of greenish colouration).  However, most surprising of all was the characteristic "hweet" call of a Willow Warbler which I first noticed near the hide on the northern side of the cut off.  As the bird flew in I was astonished to see that it was in fact a Great Tit doing an extremely convincing mimic of the Willow Warblers call! (later heard several more times near the feeders).

In the afternoon another uni student and myself led a birding trip for the Ecological Society from the uni.  We left at 1pm with the minibus and arrived at Devoran shortly after.  My main aim was to show the new beginners a variety of waders to spark their interests in birds.  Thankfully a few keen eyes on board soon had us our first Redshank, Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit with a couple of Greenshank and Ringed Plovers to follow.  Greg Wills also found a lone Oystercatcher in the distance and a Sparrowhawk flew through.  Other species of note included a small roost of Grey Herons on the opposite side of the creek and 2 Little Egrets.  Greg also put us onto a Red Fox that would otherwise have gone unnoticed had it not been for him pointing it out to us whilst Laura found three of there her favourite bird for us to all enjoy, 3 Buzzards.  In all, a nice casual outing to acquaint ourselves with some like-minded people on campus and better still to be able to show them something new they had all perhaps never seen before.  The pair of Bullfinches at the end of the walk definitely proved the point and were undoubtedly the bird of the day for us all.  As always, they prove rather popular, particularly to those beginners who had no idea such a richly coloured bird lived in the UK!

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