Sunday, 13 October 2013

"The seven-striped sprite"

I had it all worked out. I would wait until 10am so that the rain would have cleared by the time I went out. I would go straight to Winterton dunes and obtain crippling views and stunning photos of the Pallas's Warbler.
It never went like that though!
Just as I reached the site beyond the totem pole at Winterton north dunes, the bird did a disappearing trick. All I got was a movement at the back of the bushes. I waited for about two hours hoping for it to show without success. To put a 'tin-hat' on it all, a large group arrived and proceeded to wander around the area looking for the bird. In doing so they kept flushing everything out of the bushes. Robins, Redpolls and anything else wouldn't stay still. I decided to leave the area and come back in a few hours when the crowd would have thinned out.
I took my lunch in the car and then drove over to Winterton allotments where I hoped it might be a bit more sheltered.
As with the dunes and the cemetery yesterday, there were plenty of Thrushes and loads of Robins about. I was half expecting to find a Firecrest or a Ring Ouzel but the best on offer were two female Bramblings.
From there I moved on to Sea Palling where I intended to check the gardens of the small chalets behind the dunes. It was a lot more blown here than I expected and all I managed to turn up was a male Blackcap and a Common Scoter out at sea. I did stop to chat to another birder called Andy Lowe, who told me many years ago, when he saw his first Pallas's Warbler, it was only the third British record. He also had found two British firsts......Siberian Rubythroat and Pallas's Reed Bunting, both on Fair Isle in 1975 and 1976 respectively - he recommended I go to Fair Isle next autumn. I might take his advise. Here's a link to the BB article about his Siberian Rubythroat - Siberian Rubythroat - new to Britain and Ireland. Very interesting man to chat with.
After that, I headed back to Winterton dunes. The light had gotten a little better and when I arrived the bird was giving brief glimpses. I managed a quick view of the bright supercilium and median crown stripe - enough to tick it anyway. Just then the heavens opened and the bird dashed out of the bush it was in and disappeared into thicker cover.
I took shelter and covered my gear as the sky grew dark and the rain pelted down. A photo of any sort was looking less and less likely all the time.
After twenty minutes or so the rain eased back to being 'heavy' rather than torrential. I heard the bird call from the bush just in front of me. I stared straight in and could almost make out its bright supercilium without bins. I managed one record shot only. Even without cropping it you can see the golden coloured super. What a stunning little bird - the 'seven-striped sprite' as D.I.M. Wallace called it.

Pallas's Warbler, Winterton Dunes, Norfolk - 13th October 2013

Look at that 'super'!
As I made my way back to the car and I got chatting to Rob Holmes who had found a Pallas's himself only yesterday down in Southwold, it was in bush with a Yellow-browed Warbler, a Firecrest and a Goldcrest - a 'sprite quatro' as Rob himself put it.
At home I had to take all my gear out to dry it off. This is when our two Sphynx cats decided that my camera bag had a far better use.

Next time I'll take them birding with me - might be good for an organized flush!

1 comment: