Colin phoned last Thursday asking if I would be in Wales on Friday, which was when I first found out about the Common Yellowthroat near Newport.
Now American warblers have been rather hard for me having only seen two and a half. We went for the wintering Blackpoll in Kent in 1994 and two years later a frustrating trip with a blocked M25 and the detour involving hedge cutting tractors, dying milk floats and a long funeral cortege got us the Northern Waterthrush at Portland.
Later in 1996 I went for the Black and White outside Norwich, and with no news early on I went for the Desert Wheatear at Salthouse and the Pallas's Warblers at Waxham before getting to Trowse earl afternoon. Met up with the photographer dave Nye who I used to see a lot and had a chat while we scanned the roadside trees. I walked down a lane and noticed a bird climbing one of the big trees. Against the low sun it seemed to be very streaky, and I assumed it to be a Treecreeper. As it made its way up the trunk something did not seem right so I tried to get my scope on it, and it then flew off high to the south. Dismissing it as a Treecreeper and with the light fading I headed home, but there were nagging doubts. Usually Treecreepers seem to be white and brown birds-the streaking along the back and wings is only really obvious in good light, and this was not a two tone bird, it was very stripy. The other problem is it's movements were more tit like, or perhaps Nuthatch, and its flight action did not seem to be like a Treecreeper. Viewing video clips in recent years I am pretty sure now that I did see the Black and White warbler, but the views were not sufficient to be absolutely certain and I have never put it on my lists.
Anyway the chance of another American Warbler was too good to miss. However Sunday was the only option (and a good job too as it hardly showed in the Saturday rain and the car park field ended up churned up bog). New parking arrangements were made so off we headed.
We arrived just before 0800, paid our entrance fee and made our way into the field. Within minutes we were getting stunning views of the Yellowthroat feeding on the ground below the road side hedge. It flitted in and out of view for about twenty minutes before flying off. It was soon re located at the base of another hedge and in the frosty sunlight it really glowed. With the very dense tussocks of grass it was a bit more elusive but remained on view until we left at 0900.
We next went to Penarth where the Lesser Scaup was present in the country park . The first bird we saw though was a BTO ringed Whooper standing on the path beside the car park. We assume it was wild but it seemed unconcerned about people.
The Scaup was seen distantly with Tufties along the wooded eastern section of the lake. There were a few clear spots enabling us to get pretty close to it.
With no news on the Cardiff Bonapartes Gull we made our way to New Fancy View in the Forest of Dean.
Moments after getting to the view point I was watching two displaying Goshawks and later I found a couple more. Colin managed to locate a female bird sitting in one of the distant pines. We also had many Buzzards, flyby Brambling and Siskin and several Ravens. The conditions for displaying birds of prey could not have been better, but because I was starting to feel very sick we called it a day and headed off home.
I saw more Brambling somewhere in Oxfordshire, many Buzzards and huge numbers of Red Kites along the M40.