Sunday, 19 January 2020

A two-tick start to 2020

I had rounded off 2019 by birding at the Botanic Gardens in Singapore. Even in just shorts, t-shirt and flip-flops I had struggled with the heat and humidity.
A few days later, back in Norfolk and normal service was resumed - thermals, gloves, beanie, four-layers of clothing and a flask of hot coffee! Still, the birds were worth the cold!
On Saturday 4th January, I started my 2020 birding with a lifer. The Eastern Yellow Wagtail was still present on its favoured dung heap near Sedgefield. I popped up there around midday and when I arrived it was feeding in the puddles within ten to fifteen feet of where a small group of birders were stood.

Eastern Yellow Wagtail - Sedgefield, Norfolk - 4th January 2020
It took flight a couple of times before alightening near or on the dung heap. Its call is distinctive. I guess, for a mere mortal like me, if I didn't hear it call I might easily see this as an over-wintering Blue-headed Wagtail. But, the raspy call will tell you its much more than that. I had seen an Eastern Yellow Wagtail species in 2015 on Fair Isle. I don't know what became of that record. I think being a 1st winter bird, it was not assigned to any race of EYW and I hadn't ticked it.

Eastern Yellow Wagtail spp., Fair Isle, September 2015

The Sedgefield bird though is a male of the nominate race tschutschensis of Eastern Yellow Wagtail and is now very much on my life list!

The next day I drove over to Whipsnade Zoo in Dunstable for the by now famous Black-throated Thrush. When Black-throated Thrushes do turn up they are typically 1st winter birds and they certainly don't show as well as this fine male bird did. Plus, it was a lifer! So, neither the drive nor the zoo's entrance fee deterred me one bit.
The light was dreadful, but the bird was really obliging. Regularily feeding in full view in its favourite Cotoneaster tree or for a change of diet, pulling up earthworms in the adjacent pig pens.

Black-throated Thrush - Whipsnade Zoo, Dunstable, Beds. 5th January 2020

 Its still the first week of January but I may already have seen my 2020 Bird of Year!

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