Friday 10 September 2021

Quite a week on the patch!

Yes indeedy, the magic didn't wear off on Sunday but kept going right through the week. Monday and Tues were quieter though, with just a new pied flycatcher for me troubles. But things kicked off again on Wednesday when the conditions were very promising - nice light south-easterlies and a bit of patchy mist and drizzle.

With no evidence of anything new at Shite Lane and Marsh lane, I very nearly didn't bother doing the top lane, as I had a ton of brown envelopes to go through back in the office. However, it was very fortuitous that I made the effort.

After bumping into a couple of whinchats, I was scanning the fencelines in the mist when I was momentarily confused by a weird looking male wheatear on a post. But something didn't look right about it, so I edged a bit nearer....

Not a male wheatear...

The penny dropped. Grey shrike sp! Looked small and long-winged - shurely it had to be a lesser grey shrike! Then it flew and I lost it. And in trying to find it got distracted by a bunting going "pwit pwit"....

An ortolan, yesterday

Ortolan bunting! Huzzah! A classic early September score for Galley - we probably average one every couple of years here. Meanwhile where did the shrike get to?

By this time, Chris had shown up with a scope and we managed to relocate it at the bottom of the top lane, where we got better views

Look at the primaries on that! [Photo: C. O'Sullivan]

Whilst watching it, we noticed that it was colour-ringed - and once this news had gone out we were informed of the existence of a Spanish reintroduction programme, with eggs and chicks being reared to fledging and then released into the wild. More on the project here.

Lets leave that there shall we? Did score a bonus turtle dove on another late pm sortie....

Moving on to Thursday, and after the rain moved through I thought I'd have another punt around, only to bang straight into my first pectoral sandpiper at Galley, on the wee stream that flows out of Marsh Lane

A pec sand yesterday (uncropped)

It was really tame, and actually flew towards us at one point. I commando crawled over the shingle to get some closer shots, thinking of Derek Nimmo all the while!


A great wee bird! Twitching a fine wryneck this am surely brings this amayzing spell at Galley to an end? We shall see....

Still second last in the Golden mallard standings tho!

Monday 6 September 2021

Quite a weekend on the patch

Its been light easterlies for a good while now but things have remained slow and steady on the year list front, now that the autumn has officially started. The calm conditions at the end of August resulted in good numbers of waders going through, with two knot being the best, while I also had to twitch a spotted flycatcher found by Old Spoons just in case the autumn was as dud as the seawatching season has been. 

However, things picked up on the mig front on 1st September when both pied flycatcher and coot appeared; the former being more regular than the latter. Saturday morning saw me keen to avenge the painful miss of 3 stock doves and a flyover dotterel during the week and I duly scored with a fine whinchat on the lighthouse road - one that I missed last year.

Exhibit A - a whinchat

A while scanning the sycamores of Dirk produced another spotted flycatcher, plus a few phylloscs, when all of a sudden a bigger, warbler appeared in the foliage. Clearly a hippo, it didn't look "long-winged" and had no wing panel - melodious warbler! My 4th at Galley, and first since 2017. All good!

Another spotted flycatcher

However, things were to get even better on Sunday. Out again on foot, it was slow to start with, with the odd phyllosc here and there, until the blue house garden produced another spotted flycatcher and better yet, a fine redstart, my first for a couple of years.

blurred and on the huh, yesterday

Encouraged to push on, that was it for a good while, until I bumped into a small, pale warbler bouncing around a field edge. Luckily the camera wasn't still in the bag....


Fortunately the bird was very obliging, and seemingly oblivious to my presence. The way it was bouncing around suggested it hadn't been in long, but I was able to get a bit closer and confirm my suspicions that the bird was a booted warbler!!

Getting closer, and nearly in focus.....

It flipped back over the hedge and I was able to sneak up and point the camera at it for one more burst before it was away across the field and into a large sycamore bush, with literally masses of cover beyond...

Booted Warbler, Galley Head, 5/9/2021

I never saw it again, despite giving it a good while. Finding a rare is so often such a massive slice of luck that it does my head in! If I'd spent another five mins trying to get an even better redstart pic I would have missed the booted altogether! Sometimes everything comes together tho, and makes all those empty slogs round Galley worthwhile!