Monday, 28 November 2011

Sunday 27th Coming Home

I was due to come home today so had been thinking about what I might stop off at en route. Anything in the south-west region was fair game as far as I was concerned but the only thing that caught my eye was the Hume's warbler ("leaf" or "yellow-browed") at Wyke Regis. Warblers are hard to twitch at the best of times and involve a lot of standing around staring at sallows and the like, which I'd already done plenty of this week thank you very much. Still it seemed to be showing fairly regularly and as long as I didn't have too high expectation of actually seeing it I thought that I would take a crack at it. Several times I've gone to Cornwall via Weymouth so the route was fairly familiar to me. It's actually only about 15 miles further than going directly on the motorway though the roads are of course a lot slower. I packed the car, shut down the cottage and set off (via the St. Erth recycling centre) just before 10 a.m. and with the roads nice and empty on a Sunday morning I arrived at Wyke Regis at around 1:30. I wasn't exactly sure where to park but there were half a dozen cars down near the military camp which I assumed were all twitchers so I parked there. I soon met some birders coming back who all reported that in the windy conditions it wasn't really showing at all and they'd had achieved no more than hearing it call a few times in three hours of getting very cold in the wind. Not looking very promising then! I thought that I would go and put in a stint of starting at sallows for a while and hurried on in the breeze towards the slopes by the Littlesea Holiday Village. Just as I arrived at a small clearing I saw the twitching group coming towards me, obviously following something that was moving in the bushes. This looked more promising and I hurried over towards them where apparently the bird was somewhere in the scrub on the slope. Five minutes of scrub watching ensued and it was clear from listening to those around me that they'd spent a long time not seeing very much and so were rather disconsolate. Suddenly up flies the bird and sits in clear view in a tree not twenty yards from where we were, offering absolutely stunning views with the slope behind it as a backdrop showing off it's wonderfully muted colours. It was a beautiful looking bird with it's grey green tones, strong super and double wing-bar looking very exotic in this setting. It was tagging along with a feeding tit flock and so for the next few minutes we followed it as it worked its way through a comparatively clear area, getting brief glimpses before the flock hit an area of thick sallows once more. I knew that I wasn't going to get any better views than that, jobs a good'un!

I turned around to survey the Fleet behind me with it's vast hoards of brent geese. Someone next to me managed to pick out one of the black brants and managed to get me on it - most excellent, especially as I hadn't bothered to bring my scope (not normally required for warbler watching) and hadn't really felt like checking through the hundreds of birds myself. Having cleaned up so quickly I decided to head back home early - I'd been extremely lucky to get away with such excellent views after so short a wait - if only all twitching could be like that. The rest of the journey was uneventful and I arrived home tired but pleased to be back with the family and most satisfied with my Blitzkrieg twitch.

Just some of the brent geese on the Fleet. There
is a black brant in the picture somewhere!
Chesil Beach is very striking

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