Sunday, 13 September 2015

The Adder and the Bluethroat

It felt a bit like living for the weekend. A swing mid-week to easterly winds and a decent arrival of drift migrants like Redstarts, Pied flys, RB Shrikes and Wrynecks had me straining at the leash.
Saturday morning's weather looked a bit grim and I thought of waiting it out till mid-afternoon but the odd break in the showers encouraged me to head out.
I spent the first three hours of the morning punting around Great Yarmouth Cemetery and it was hard work. Others had turned up several Pied Flys and Redstarts but a single Pied Fly and a Blackcap was the best for me. It can be a frustrating place - a lot of cover for a relatively small area!
At around 12 noon I took lunch and decided to try for the Wryneck at Winterton.
On arrival at the south dunes things were better straight-away. Within the first ten minutes I had two Redstarts followed shortly by two more and then a Pied Fly below the Hermanus restaurant. The Wryneck was trickier though and I failed to see it.
I had settled down to try and catch some Redstart photos when I met another birder who said he'd just come across the Bluethroat. Rightly enough there had been one reported on Friday (I think) in the south dunes but there hadn't been much further news on it and the report seemed to slip from the birding radar.
The birder led about three of us to a stand of furze and sure enough there was a Bluethroat hopping around the edge feeding. I figured out its routine and took up a position with camera and tripod at the ready. About ten minutes in it appeared again in front of me and played ball!

Bluethroat, Winterton NNR, Norfolk - 12th September 2015
So my second Bluethroat of the autumn and a much more obliging bird than the one Dick Filby found on the bank holiday over on the north dunes. I filled a 16GB memory card with shots and I really had a tough job picking out the best ones at home on Saturday evening.
A small crowd of seven or so birders had assembled to watch the bird, once they'd had their fill they all trooped off to try for the Wryneck. So I was left on my own with the bird as it continued to feed around the bottom of the gorse. This is where it got good. At one point a Redstart dashed in and seemed to chase it away. The Bluethroat held its ground and then perched up on a low stump a short distance off the ground and began excitedly fanning its tail. I was trying to figure out why it was doing this when an Adder slithered past below the bird.

Not happy for some reason - fanning its tail excitedly!

The Bluethroat stands well back as this Adder slips past!
The Adder disappeared into the gorse stand but the Bluethroat was clearly unhappy, he spent a good five minutes fanning the tail and scolding the snake. I never seen this behaviour before but then again being from Ireland I don't get to see many snakes either let alone snakes and birds together.
Well I wasn't going to top that, it was 2.30pm, I had enjoyed a great day and an amazing encounter. I gathered up my gear and headed back to the car leaving the Bluethroat to itself.