Saturday, 6 June 2020

Very Pink Things

Once again my NQS plans have all gone to pot. I have a couple of posts planned for a quiet time, but the quiet time I had in mind (June) refuses to shut up. It all started to go wrong this morning, with news of a Rosy Starling in Seaton. There are not many birds Mrs NQS would be tempted by, but I knew that a proper pink Rosy Starling was one of them. So I was surprised when she turned it down. Instead she said, 'You need to find us a local one.' This I knew already, so after lunch began my search in West Bay. While I was mooching round a housing estate peppered with regular everyday Starlings, the Seaton Rosy Starling gradually morphed into two Rosy Starlings. Although no birder had yet seen both together, photos appeared to indicate that there was actually a bright bird and a dull one. I phoned home with this news, and was instructed to come back immediately, collect one Rosy Starling twitcher and take her to Seaton. How could I refuse?

When we arrived, there were a few birders peering into someone's garden. Apparently both birds were visible, somewhat buried in a holly tree. We had a quick look, and could definitely make out one Rosy Starling, but birding around houses is not my cup of tea, so we ambled up the road to find a decent vantage point from which to view the rooftops etc. Ian M had adopted the same strategy, and we joined him. Ian and I were carefully checking some distant trees and whatnot when I felt a tap on the shoulder. Sandra was pointing at the nearest roof...

Amazing! In the briefest flash of sunshine, we had both birds together.


The number of times that's happened. I'll be grilling some distant field or hedge or something with the scope, and Sandra quietly goes, 'Isn't this it, right here?' as she points at something clearly visible with the naked eye. I wish she came with me more often...

The birds split up moments later, so here they are singly...

The gaudy one

And not so gaudy


Earlier in the day, Steve Waite filmed a great little video of the bright male in song, and it's well worth checking out on Steve's blog here.

Having had such excellent views so quickly, we were soon on our way. And this evening I was back to the task of finding one locally...

West Bay this evening. Very few people. Even fewer pink Starlings.


I finished off West Bay and then, following a tip-off from ex-local Ian M, headed over to Cogden to see if there was a reedbed Starling roost to check out. Well, there was!

Just a tiny part of the pre-roost gathering

Several hundred Starlings having a practice run.


I would guess there were over 3,000 Starlings present all told, and I was able to get a good look at the whole gang. No pink ones. However, if a Rosy Starling turns up locally somewhere, I could easily see it hooking up with this lot, so I shall have to check them a few more times in the coming weeks I guess...

Twitching Rosy Starling on my old patch was great, but I would rather like to find my own if possible. We shall see...

12 comments:

  1. June in Devon seems different to other places.

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    1. Normally it's identical, I promise you.

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    2. As a rule, here too. But, we all know the thing about exceptions... 😊

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  2. Hi Gav - great photos, great post. Definitely keep checking that flock but I guess Rosy Starlings can pop up anywhere. Twitched one in Exminster Village last summer which was rarely seen away from a single Cherry tree. Only ever found one in Exmouth despite searching through hundreds in flocks over the years - a lone bird that flew out of an isolated bush on the Foxholes housing estate, Orcombe Point, early one morning in June 2002. Dawlish Warren, a stone's throw away has had several since then so I would assume many have just disappeared in to Exmouth gardens - much more likely to be found by non-birders and posted on social media like the Seaton birds. All the best. Matt

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    1. Thanks Matt, I shall try to keep looking. Probably as good a year as any to find your own! I know West Bex had a couple in the 2018 influx, and I guess plugging away at the coastal spots is also a nice way to maximise chances of a Woodchat, Red-footed Falcon and suchlike. Can always dream!

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  3. What is it about wives? Mine is much better at fish spotting than me and, when a reedy spot on a Norfolk pool was surrounded by twitchers (including me on that occasion) looking for a grey phalarope, she said "Isn't that it?" It was, at the other end of the pool.

    I'm sure we could train our wives for this useful purpose, maybe mention it to yours ;o)

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    1. Another example. August bank holiday last year, and we head over to Axmouth on a Long-tailed Blue twitch. Hadn't been seen that morning at all, and we were there an hour with a couple of others searching... Guess who spotted it first? I could write a book.

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  4. Those were some very nice photographs. Rosy Starlings are irregular migrants to our country. I remember the first time I saw one, I was overjoyed!

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    1. Thanks Janitha. Rosy Starling is quite rare here, though occasionally irrupts into W Europe, as it has this year. When that happens, some invariably cross the sea to Britain. These are the first I've seen in full breeding plumage. Spectacular!

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  5. Great photos of a lovely find. And *yes*, the phenomenon of one’s significant other having a much better eye is very, very relatable!

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