Saturday, 15 October 2016

Siberian rhapsody

While I was enjoying my time in Canada, looking at Twitter and Facebook, news of a Siberian Accentor on Shetland seemed to be getting a lot of folk back home in a bit of spin, being the long awaited and anticipated first record for the UK.  While exciting for the diehard twitchers, it was not a bird I would think of flying up to Shetland for; a Hawk Owl on the other hand.....

A few days later as I was back home, snoozing on the sofa as I recovered from the jetlag, I got a message from Sarah (who annoyingly for her was on a train down to Cornwall at the time) telling me that another Siberian Accentor had been found at Easington near Spurn Point in Yorkshire - much more twitchable for the masses.  Next day, estimates between 1,000-2,000 birders descended on Easington with queues round the block with the bird still present and showing to all comers but I decided rather riskily to wait until the weekend to go.

Saturday morning dawned and thankfully with the cat thrown out all night I got a good night's sleep to get over the remaining jetlag and with news that the accentor was still present, I set off, arriving shortly after 1.30pm.  Annoyingly, about 10 minutes before I got there, the bird had flown from the garden it had been frequenting and into the adjacent gas compound where it was much harder to see.  Thankfully with only 100 or so twitchers there and ample viewing space, the bird showed well on occasions but viewing and photography in particular were difficult being through wire fence.

The conditions that had brought the accentor (and even more amazingly, at least 4 others to date) to the country had also brought a good selection of scarce migrants, with Spurn seemingly getting the majority.  A a couple of hours spent walking around the triangle at nearby Kilnsea was excellent, with Robins and thrushes everywhere and Pallas's and Yellow-browed Warblers showing briefly between the churchyard and pub car park and better still, a very showy Dusky Warbler that gave amazing close views along the canal.

With half an hour of decent light left, I decided to go back to have another look at the accentor which had now moved back to its favoured garden and with only half a dozen other birders there.  Here the accentor showed much better, at first flitting around behind a large yellow skip before eventually feeding with a few Dunnocks 5m away, though the light was fading fast but with the ISO cranked up, photos were still possible, an incredible way to spend the end of the day.

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