Monday 22 January 2018

The Black Rodney

Being cooped up in a hotel on a training course all week had me ready for a little bit of birding on the weekend. I had to decline the kind offer from James Lowen to join him on Saturday to see the Black Redstart at Sheringham but I was able to make it up there with Nick on Sunday morning and despite the biting cold the conditions were otherwise not too bad at all. The bird was favouring an area of open lawns that are part of an apartment complex on the sea-front just beside the RNLI carpark (which may have  been something to do with the supply of mealworms it was getting).
Normally a wintering Black Redstart wouldn't tempt me out like this but this bird was a cracking male. For all the female type birds I've seen wintering in coastal locations like this one, I have only ever seen one other male Black Redstart.

Male Black Redstart, Sheringham, Norfolk - 21 January 2018
By the way the name Black Rodney is a county Cork thing (specifically a Tony Nagle thing), how Tony came up with the name I don't know and there's no logic to it because Common Redstarts are not Rodneys either. In any case, the name has stuck!
After an hour of lying on the hard ground of the carpark in order to get eye-level shots, I decided I'd had enough. The temperature was still only 1oC and lying on the hard, cold ground was a really fast way to loose body-heat, despite the many layers I had.

Almost frozen!
We replenished our energy levels with a fine full English breakfast in nearby Cromer and from there went on to Letheringsett to search for the Coues's Arctic Redpoll(s). The Redpoll flock was flightly to say the least, added to the fact that there was a mobile flock of Goldfinches, another flock of Linnets, some random Bullfinches thrown in, plus the light was dire and the cold was numbing. All in all the whole thing was a bit of a mess. We had brief views of a possible Coues's Arctic as it perched above our heads, the bill looks good but I couldn't see the rump and the undertail coverts were obscured by a stray twig - still, make your own mind up.

Possible Arctic Redpoll - Letheringsett, Norfolk - 21 January 2018

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