Sunday, 22 August 2021

A Bad Day for Shorts

West Bex again this afternoon, and a wiggly route to East Bex and back. Very poor trouser choice though. The sunshine had tempted me into shorts, but I hadn't planned on taking a little-used path which I last walked in spring. A lot of growth has happened since spring. Ankle-high bramble runners are the bane of shorts-wearers everywhere, and this path was festooned with the blasted things. I am in tatters.

At least my sacrifice was rewarded. Two Hobbies again. One came off the ridge, rather like yesterday's main sightings, though I was a long way from where I saw the Cogden birds. The other dashed through from the east, low over fields and hedges, and away. The latter bird was so soon after the first that I'm convinced it was a different individual. Here's the first one...

I think five-pixel Hobbies are going to become a traditional NQS thing

My notes list four other birds: 2 Willow Warblers, 1 Lesser Whitethroat and 1 Goldcrest. The Goldcrest is notable for two reasons. One, it was a just-fledged juv, and therefore perhaps a West Bex product. And two, it was my first Goldcrest of 2021. How does a birder get to late August without seeing a Goldcrest? Some achievement that.

So yes, Hobbies aside it was pretty poor for birds today. There are more butterflies in my notes than birds. And one was an unexpected corker!

A bit less than pristine, but this female Silver-washed Fritillary was a surprise encounter at West Bex.

It was on view for about a minute before flipping over the bushes and out of sight, but thankfully I got some photos. I'll be honest, I had to ask for ID help. I knew that Dark Green Fritillary occurs at West Bex occasionally, but didn't know whether Silver-washed was even on the recording area list, so assumed this was probably going to be the former. But no, it is indeed a Silver-washed Fritillary, and an even scarcer visitor to West Bex than Dark Green.

Also in today's notes were 7 Painted Ladies...

Painted Lady on Fleabane I think.

I have pics of Painted Lady on Knapweed and Teasel too. Perhaps I should start an album...?

When I got home this evening I had a little browse on Twitter before dinner, and discovered that a really smart rarity has happened in Cornwall...

There was a time when this species would have had me moving heaven and earth to see it. Until recently there hadn't been an occurence in Britain since my wedding day: 9th August 1980. All through my twitching years it was one of those mythical birds that you just hoped would one day do the right thing...but which never did. For 40 years it resolutely held out. And then last autumn a miserable-looking specimen turned up in chilly, wet Norfolk, to a deafening fanfare of triumphant euphoria. At the time, I wrote about the strange disconnect from it all that I felt - here - and I'm interested to note that my feelings are still exactly the same.

Like Peter in his tweet there, I would call this bird a Rufous Bush Chat rather than Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin (assuming that's what its current name is) and not because of some entrenched resistance to change, but because 'Rufous Bush Chat' is what leaps automatically and excitedly into my head when presented with that image. It's simply a name that has been familiar for decades, that's all, while 'Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin' requires a conscious effort to summon from the 'New Stuff' folder.

Whatever you call it, this particular individual is most definitely a stunner. My Twitter feed is rigid with pics of the bird, and in all of them it looks amazing. Such a contrast from the sorry, bedraggled beastie at Stiffkey last October.

Country-wide, birders have been doing precisely what I would have been doing 35 years ago: dropping everything and rushing off to the Lizard. Meanwhile, my day's highlight remains a not-uncommon butterfly, with which I am very chuffed. Funny old game, isn't it?


  1. What a bird Gav, could have been in your scrub... saw lots in Turkey, running around on piles of pallets etc so it remains a trip too far for me...

    1. Agreed Stewart, a real looker that one. I think my heart would stop.

  2. Those were the days Gav, when a six hour drive could be fun. Though to be fair, there's not many who could beat your dip on the B&WW. That was a classic of twitching lore. Please remind us all. It'll be a reset on the concept of feeling totally and diametrically shattered.

    1. Ha ha! The dip of which you speak was my second involving that species. Two equally hideous memories, which I don't think I'm in any hurry to resurrect!

    2. would you dare try a third time for a B&WW?

    3. It would have to be very, very local! 😄