Monday, 25 January 2010
BLACK-THROATED THRUSH - a YORKSHIRE tick
First-winter female Black-throated Thrush, Mires Road, Newholm Village, Whitby, North Yorkshire, January 2010 (Craig Shaw)
SUNDAY 24 JANUARY
For the first time this year, a day of ‘target birding’ – with a visit to North Yorkshire, primarily to see the long-staying first-winter female Black-throated Thrush. Alan Stewart was driving, and Joan Thompson was joining us. We departed at 0400 hours from Chorleywood, and after visiting a host of coastal sites, it was a very productive day with the addition of 15 species to my 2010 Year List.
At 0400 hours, a Robin was in full song in the artificial street lights.
NEWHOLM, WHITBY (NORTH YORKSHIRE)
Newholm was 267 miles from Chorleywood and after departing at 0400 hours, we eventually arrived in the village just west of Whitby at 0835. My first ever Yorkshire BLACK-THROATED THRUSH was seen within 15 minutes of arrival in the village, flying in to the tree in the front garden of No.3 Mires Road (Danesfield). It afforded extremely good views at just 20 yards range and sat there for 7 minutes before being chased off by a House Sparrow.
Twenty minutes later, it reappeared in the same tree and after a few minutes, dropped down on to the lawn and started feeding on the apples and dried mealworms placed out for it by the householders. The neighbouring garden of no. 5 (Glen View) was also stocked full of food and over the next two hours, the bird repeatedly returned to take full advantage, and treated the crowd (made up of around 25 persons, including Justin Lansdell from Norfolk) to some exceptional views.
The pointed shape of the tail feathers indicated that this bird was a first-winter female, the bird in general being very pale grey on the upperparts, with very black lores, white underparts and a heavily streaked breast and flanks. The bill was dull yellow towards the base.
On two occasions, it uttered a rather Fieldfare-like ‘chuckle’ as it flew.
It was a rather bold individual, brazenly taking up territory in the gardens despite the presence of up to 4 Common Blackbirds including an adult male, and frequently perched on the fence and sat for several minutes at a time in the shrubs. In this manner, it was very photogenic, and every time it appeared, the sound of clattering shutters could be heard.
Previous Yorkshire records:
1) A first-winter in Sheffield Botanical Gardens on 9, 19 and 20 January 1987;
2) A first-winter at Knaresborough from 1-8 January 1989;
3) A male at Kellington from 28 January to 4 February 1990;
4) A first-winter at Redmires Reservoir, Sheffield, on 13 November 1995;
5) A first-winter female remained in Buckton from 25-27 March 2007 (fully documented by Mark Thomas & Dave Wardby in Yorkshire Birding 16: 25-27.
Gracing the gardens of Mires Road with the star performer above were a MARSH TIT, a Coal Tit, several Blue Tits, 4 Common Blackbirds, 3 Dunnocks and 20 House Sparrows.
A badly oiled Little Auk was lying at the roadside of Mires Road, apparently picked up initially on Monday.
SCALBY MILLS (NORTH YORKSHIRE)
(1050 hours) The bay at Scalby Mills yielded 6 year-ticks – Red-throated Diver, Gannet, Fulmar, Common Guillemot, European Shag and Turnstone.
At least 5 RED-THROATED DIVERS were close inshore, with 7 adult Northern Gannets streaming south, 6 Northern Fulmars (and a further 10+ pairs on the cliffs along the Promenade), a mass of wildfowl on the sea including 500+ Eurasian Wigeon, Common Teal and 2 drake Northern Pintail, a Common Guillemot, 15+ Atlantic Great Cormorants, a single European Shag, 49 Lapwing and 4 Turnstones. A Harbour Porpoise swan north.
FILEY BRIGG (NORTH YORKSHIRE)
Another 7 year-ticks afforded by this prestige coastal site – Common Eider, Long-tailed Duck, Common Scoter, Purple Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, Red Knot and Razorbill.
15 Oystercatchers and a group of 5 Common Redshank were feeding in the pools in the clifftop car park. Viewing from the eastern tip of the Brigg footpath, a calm sea yielded 1 Great Crested Grebe, 15 RED-THROATED DIVERS, 30 European Shags, 15 Northern Gannets, Northern Fulmars, 2 drake Eurasian Wigeon, 2 female Red-breasted Mergansers, a female Common Goldeneye, 45 Northern Eiders, 7 LONG-TAILED DUCKS (including a fine drake), 90 Common Scoters and 2 female-type VELVET SCOTERS. There were also 60+ Common Guillemots and at least 2 Razorbills.
The Brigg itself and its rocky pools produced 5 Seals, 15 Oystercatchers, 70 Red Knot, up to 24 PURPLE SANDPIPERS, 1 Grey Plover, 60 Dunlin, 3 Ringed Plovers and several Turnstones.
The clifftop grass held 5 Rock Pipits and 7 Meadow Pipits.
BUCKTON CLIFFTOP FIELDS (EAST YORKSHIRE)
We trudged around the clifftop stubble fields for over an hour but there was just no sign of the large flock of 170 Corn, 22 Lapland and 30 Snow Bunting that Mark Thomas and others had seen in early January before the snow. We could only muster up 7 CORN BUNTINGS, 7 Yellowhammers, 25 Skylark, 15 Rock Pipits and 40 Linnets, although a WOODCOCK was a pleasant surprise, 10 GREY PARTRIDGE were welcome and a PEREGRINE skimmed by. A single Brown Hare was also seen.
Offshore, well over 100 Northern Gannets were loafing, as well as large numbers of Fulmars, with 150 or more Common Gulls in the fields.
FLAMBOROUGH HEAD (EAST YORKSHIRE)
Just west of Old Fall Hedgerow and in the second field down, a single TUNDRA BEAN GOOSE was showing well with 37 Greylag Geese. Just under half a mile further west, and south of the Head road, a further TUNDRA BEAN GOOSE was seen with 28 Greylag Geese and a superb flock of 22 PALE-BELLIED BRENT GEESE present for their third week and representing my 15th new bird of the day.
At the Head itself, offshore were 15 Common Scoter, a single drake Common Eider, 200+ Common Guillemots and large numbers of Northern Gannets.
HEMEL HEMPSTEAD (HERTFORDSHIRE)
On the way home, we stopped off at the ‘Magic Roundabout’ in Hemel town centre, where at 2000 hours, the adult female PEREGRINE was to be easily located, roosting on its usual pillar.
An extremely enjoyable day, forwarding my year-list for 2010 to 150 species.