Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Tuesday, 21 October 2003
With Stonechats popping up all around the PBC area, it was no surprise to find a fem/imm along the drove. Three Sparrowhawks soaring high over the house drifted off south-west (presumably migrants) and a male and female raiding the feeding station made five Spars on/over the fen in one day. Not bad.

A young hedgehog spent the afternoon wandering around the garden and comically trying to reach up to the Sombrero - with little joy! It did eventually manage a dip of its nose in the water before giving up and then finding Andy's much lower water trough.

Monday, 20 October 2003
Work. The garden was proving not too busy - still 6 Treeps. Returning from an hour's soaking at Eldernell (and no birds) I pulled up at the front to flush a Brambling which flew off east . . and kept on going. Not even a garden year tick.

Sunday, 19 October 2003

Day two of 'out of PBC area weekend'! I headed over to the Norfolk/Suffolk coast and a bad start dipping on Hume's Leaf Warbler (please - not Hume's Yellow-browed!). Deciding Great Yarmouth cemy sounded infinitely better than the HLW site, I departed some 15 minutes before the sod decided to break cover, perform for five mins and then go and hide again. Still, Great Yarmouth cemy was better, and having walked into the Pallas's Warbler on arrival, soon located the sycamore circled by birders watching the Olive-backed Pipit. And what a spanker! The OBP performed brilliantly creeping along branches picking off insects from the twigs and leaves. Superb!

For some unknown reason that I later came to regret, I decided not to for go 'just another' American Goldie and headed for Lowestoft and a non-existent Yellow-browed. No sign of the YBW, I retraced my route back to Sizewell and feeling comforted that the Hume's LW had been seen at 2pm, decided to stick it out . . . until 6pm when every soddin bird in the area had shown itself (including several Firecrests and a fly-over Woodlark), but not the HLW. Ho hum.

The drive home to Peterborough was only made manageable thanks to a flask of Lavazza coffee and a stop at Pizza Express in Bury St Edmunds (yum-yum!). It was made even sweeter tho, knowing that I had again not missed anything at home (probably down to the fact that most active weekend PBCers were in Norfolk/Suffolk!).

Saturday, 18 October 2003
A right rare occurrence - a day out of my beloved PBC area to bird the Lincs coast. An early start and subsequent timely arrival at Skegness - only no one told the dickies! Working the south end of Skeggie revealed not a great deal - a few fly over Redwings and oddly, 5 Grey Wagtails over to the north. Switching to the north end of the town to the 'bluetail' site instantly brought something to look at - a spanking male Bramblefinch. The bird was feeding in the sycamores, creeping along the branches, allowing me to get some snaps with the digiscope.

A search of the surrounding area produced nothing else (later in the day the male Sardine was to be 'refound' here!) so I relocated to Gib Point where I bumped in to Robin Cosgrove. We birded Sykes's Farm which, compared to the Skeggie areas, was positively dripping with birds. But no sign of the morning's Yellow-browed or the day before's Pallas's. Lots of Bramblings around and a Blackcap were the highlight.

News from further north and Pallas's and Yellow-browed at Saltfleet so it was back in the car. I had got as far as Chapel St Leonard when the pager bleeped with news of a Olive-backed Pipit at . . . Skeggie! Bollox! About turn and 20 mins later I was parked in Derby Ave and searching the gardens for the OBP. I had already decided to give it only an hour before making my way to Saltfleet. As it happened, gen on site revealed the OBP had not been seen for some hours and not by anyone other than finders (recent PBC arrival Kevin Durose and Rutland refugee John 'Lefty' Wright - lucky chaps!). I soon relocated to Saltfleet where on arrival I was lucky to see the Pallas's within, oh, about five seconds of waiting. Now that's more like it!

Over the next hour I watched the sycamores behind the amusements 'hut' and managed to get some excellent views of the seven-stripe sprite, and 'assisted' other arriving birders to get on to it. Vagrant warbler watching can be really good fun, and today was no exception, but it can rarely be more entertaining. To say some of those looking for the Pallas's didn't know their arse from their elbow would be an understatement! Still, a couple of those fitting this description soon realised the complexities of watching a small group of tall trees stuffed with Goldcrests, at least four Firecrests and one Pallas's. Not everything that moved was going to be the Pallas's! In fact, it rarely was.

'Putting the birder on the Pallas's' was proving just as much fun a watching the bird itself, and at least in order to put the birder on to the bird, meant that I first had to find it! Then the fun started. I kept using a perched Woodpigeon as a reference point. After about 10 minutes of mentioning the Woodpig, one guy exclaimed with much relief 'Fantastic! I've found the pigeon!'. At least it was a start.

I returned home happy that my quest for a rare Phyllosc had been successful and I had had a really fun time with some good birding characters. And what's more, I hadn't missed anything in the PBC area!