Siberian Accentor, along with the rather similar Black Throated Accentor is one of those birds that have always been a bit of a long shot once in a lifetime bird. There have been a few records from eastern and north eastern Europe over the years and it was always expected to appear one day.
Since the end of September an easterly airflow extending an incredibly long way into the far north east has brought a large number of Sibes' into western Europe, and among them several records of Siberian Accentor. It was only a matter of time before the first UK record, which duly arrived on the 9th in the expected location of Shetland. A few lucky individuals managed to get plane charters organised at great expense (900 pounds has been quoted) and got to see the bird, along with the very fortunate ones already there having one of the best autumns in many years.
Numbers continued to be reported across Europe and on Thursday evening the second UK bird was found at Easington in Yorkshire. A bit closer to home for most of us and quite a bit cheaper, so Friday morning saw large numbers queuing to see the bird. Although on holiday, I could not get there until Sunday and was hoping it would stick. Luckily a third was found in Saltburn so there was a back up.
So Sunday morning Colin and I were on the road heading to Yorkshire. No news from Saltburn, but good news from Easington-it was still there! And by the time we arrived, yet another had been found in Sunderland. We parked in the muddy field, just as the rain started and headed up Vicarage Lane to the gas terminal fence and joined what appeared to be a rather small crowd.
A late and rather damp Spotted Flycatcher entertained us flying from the fence, and feeding on the ground, as were a lot of Chiffchaffs Willow Warblers and Goldcrests.
From time to time there were small Thrush movements-mainly Redwing with a few Mistle and Song Thrushes (substantially reduced from the numbers that were being reported on Friday), and every now and again a Robin or Dunnock would pop out and cause a bit of a scare. After about and hour we were getting very wet, and one poor guy had brought his young son with him who was not exactly enjoying things. Luckily just before he was getting ready to leave, raised voices to my left hinted that the Accentor was being observed. Took a while to get directions-it was keeping very low behind a raised kerb and in a gulley but it popped up some way off and I got my first view.
It disappeared quite quickly and there was some confusion as to where it had gone, and as not everyone had seen it tensions were increasing rapidly. Soon after it was rebound, feeding in the ditch behind the fence and although obscured we were all able to get good views.
A lot of very wet and very happy birders returned to their cars and contemplated the next move.
Over the weekend, an awful lot off birds had been seen in the Spurn area-maybe seven Dusky Warblers, at least one Raddes, several Pallas's and Yellow Browed Warblers. Olive Backed Pipits. Not to mention Woodcock, Owls, Geese and Quail.
Heading down to Kilnsea and following directions we stopped briefly to have a quick look at the Tundra Bean Geese in one of the fields, along with many Mallard, Lapwing and Fieldfares.
We parked outside the Crown and Anchor and joined a few birders in the car park. Unfortunately there weren't any birds, but the hedge across the road was alive with Goldcrests and one stunning Firecrest. We then walked down the path along the canal in the hope that the Raddes Warbler was still around, but the wind and rain was not ideal conditions to find this very skulking bird. Just about all we found were a few Rock Pipits on the boulders and a rather bedraggled Black Redstart.
We returned to the car park and there were more birders now. It took a bit of time but eventually i found one of the Pallas's on the far side of the boundary hedge but it was very elusive, as was the Yellow Browed that also put in a brief appearance.
Just as the rain was starting to ease off, we parked at the Bluebell and walked all of fifty yards to the large puddle that held the Shorelark that was putting on a very good show. A bit of a change from the long trudges to try and find the usually very flighty birds on the Norfolk coast.
Having got completely soaked after several hours in the rain, and since it was now early afternoon, we decided to call it a day rather than hang around hoping to find something else.
Writing on the 17th, I think the running total of Siberian Accentors in Europe has now exceeded 60, with many countries reporting multiple arrivals on a daily basis. No more for the UK as of yet, its incredible to think that in the space of a week its gone from a mega rare first to an almost expected rarity and rumour has it at least one keen birder has seen all four. Will it do a Bluetail and become a regular autumn visitor or will this be a one off.....