Sunday, 3 May 2009

Double Whammy

The chances of me getting to see new birds in the UK get harder each year as the more I see, the fewer there are left, and most of those are either very rare, or rarely stay for any length of time. 
The Collared Flycatcher that turned up at Portland earlier in the week was one of those. The migration route in spring and autumn takes it well away from the Uk and only 28 have appeared-all in spring, usually on remote islands and mostly for a day or two.
Remarkably it stayed, singing in a back garden until yesterday (no sign so far today) enabling Colin and I to get great views. It spent a lot of time in a cherry tree, and the nearby sycamores where it was often chose a shaded branch. Never still, it was very hard for me to photograph, but I managed to get a few decent images.
An even more mythical rarity also turned up earlier in the week, a Crested Lark at Dungeness. The last one that was twitchable, at Landguard in 1996 was only really available for an afternoon, and previous to that the last long stayer also at Dungeness was in 1975. Despite breeding just across the channel, only twenty have been seen, so few birders have ever seen one in the UK. Remarkably it is still present as I write.
The 200  mile drive from Portland to Dungeness turned out to be fairly pleasant, most of the traffic problems seemed to be in the other direction and we arrived in the early afternoon.
Unfortunately the Lark had been lost to view so we joined one of several groups to search the shingle. With only a brief possible sighting we returned to the most regular area and waited. Sure enough after a short wait the bird was located, but out of view for the majority before flying off again. The next hour was very frustrating as the Lark flew from one area to another, and flight views, being brief were not all that satisfactory. Finally it was seen on the ground and I managed to see the bird for a minute or so as it moved through a gap in the bushes, crest erect.
Exhausted we spent an hour or so unwinding at the RSPB reserve picking up a few new birds for the year list and enjoying the spring evening.

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