Tuesday 14 June 2016

Just Occasionally My Confidence Drains

A mystery bird . . Hottoft Pit- Bank Lincolnshire WT nature resevre, June 6th 2016

A morning of glorious sunshine had me retracing my cycling steps along a fabulous cycle path and evntually through Horncastle and on to Hottoft. A
marsh warbler had been reported there and I had decided to try for this great to get bird instead of carrying on to Old Moor RSPB reserve for the little bittern. I was confident that the LB would still be there in a day or so.
Arriving at the reedbed reserve,I found that I was alone and that other than the occasional burst of sedge warbler song, there was silence. That is there were no mimicking calls or songs from the rare acro.
A nice spotted flycatcher was fly catching and for an hour or so the sedge and flycatcher were the only birds of note. A cuckoo cuckooed.

Then low down in the bushes that ran along the southern edge of the path I saw a small acrocephalus warbler. It looked good. From what I initially saw I thought 'marsh.' I photographed it and videoed it. The latter I completely forgot I had taken until today when I was searching on my external hard-drive for more photographs.

The bird disappeared into the undergrowth and a couple of local birders had brief views and thought the same as me, marsh.
They left happy with their identification, leaving me alone with my thoughts.
Now many years ago when in my early twenties I had had a personally embarrassing experience over such an easy to identify yet mega rare back then, Pallas' warbler.
I had found one in Well's wood, the dell, and had run like a headless chicken to find my mates. I bumped into a group of far more experienced than me at that time birders and blurted out a description of stripes and wing bars. I forgot to say the yellow rump! I remember even now blushing at their laughter which was probably well meant but that embarrassed me at the time.
Sitting in the hide in the evening with images on the viewfinder of my camera, I started to be unsure of my id.of the warbler.
Phil Andrews, The Oracle had received my initial text:
18:23 – wish I could get these photographs to you! This looks good . . . . short bill, no warm brown to the rump . . .
And in return Phil texted:
Ready to declare 251 marsh warbler?
I wasn't. I just wasn't sure anymore.
20:50 Sorry mate. I don't think it is.feet look too dark. Not singing.
I camped nearby and was up early hoping that the marsh warbler would be still there going through a repertoire of mimicking song and calls. It wasn't and I cycled away towards Old Moor and really put it to the back of my mind. That is until I put a photograph on here a few days ago and alarm bells rang.
So have a look at the photographs and the video and see what you think. Personally I will put it down as the one I messed up this year, hope there aren't too many cock ups and I won't be adding it to my list.
I am though very interested in the lessons learnt from this bird. Even looking at the photographs and video this morning has left me confused as there are pointers that go both ways; reed and marsh.

Now away from all this acro debate, I have been at the superb Spurn Bird Observatory for the last three days and have been so lucky to have bee-eater and golden oriole to add to the list. Two easy to identify birds, bold and colourful each. So the year list is now on 254 and with honey buzzards just up the road, OK fifty miles up the road and roseate terns and a possible Bonaparte's gull both in Northumberland, things look good to beat the year tick target for June of five birds. Well, six due to missing my May target of twenty five birds by one.

More on monthly target projections next time. All the best everyone.


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