Thursday 20 January 2022

Bogey Bird Bites Dust

On Tuesday I finally made it to the Seaton area. I already knew the four Glossy Ibis were still present, but was in no rush to visit them. I wanted the sun to get round a bit first, so they could live up to their name properly. A morning's work was followed by a lingering look at lots of Larids. All dross. On to the ibis then. The early-morning gen had them almost within touching distance of the cycle path, by the church. This was going to be good.

I certainly didn't need bins. Glossy Ibis are easily identifiable with the naked eye. Especially when very close, like they were first thing. And, yes, even when distant dots, like they were right now. Sigh... They couldn't have been any further away while still being in the same field. And in the short time I had available they basically did nothing but eat...

One accidentally has its head visible here

Standard pose.

A bonus Dark-bellied Brent was nice...

A fairly unusual sight on the Axe

It was good to bump into Tim and Sue, a couple of the Axe regulars. Such a nice vibe among the local birders there.

So, on to yesterday afternoon and the meaning of this post's title...

Bearded Tit is a species I have seen just once since living in the Southwest. And that was in Hyde Park during a trip to London! In other words: zero local birds. I've had chances, but failed to connect. Beardy is a scarce bird locally, for sure. Evidently more regular at West Bex and Cogden than on the Axe, but I've missed them there too. I've missed them everywhere, and feel like the only long(ish)-time local birder who hasn't seen one. Mind you, I've never been too frantic about twitching them because I'd much prefer to find my own. Well...

Mid-afternoon I was sploshing around a West Bexington spot in search of #LocalBigYear ticks, specifically Common Snipe and Jack Snipe. Common Snipe was quick and easy (and expected) but soon enough a Jack Snipe (hoped for but not expected) popped up too, and I watched it come down in an area of short grass and a bit of Juncus. I'd seen exactly where it landed, and fancied my chances of an on-the-deck experience if I was careful. So I began edging my way over there, along the side of some reeds. Suddenly a small, annoyed thing burst from the reeds with a staccato volley of 'pings', landing just a few yards away. Bearded Tit! The sun was in my eyes but a quick look with bins confirmed it was a female. It looked jittery, so if I was going to get a photo, now was the time. I could barely see through the camera for glare, so basically guessed where it was and got two short bursts before it flew. This is the best shot...

Female Bearded Tit at West Bex

I don't know who discovered the Beardies I saw in Hyde Park that time, but I reckon I have a good idea how they felt. Well, almost. I suppose West Bex isn't Central London, is it?! Still, local birding definitely adds value to birds that might be fairly commonplace elsewhere.

I saw (and heard) the Beardy a few times after that, but it didn't perch up for me again. I never did see that Jack Snipe on the deck though, but found a second some time later. So, Bearded Tit, 2 Jack Snipe, 19 Common Snipe, singles of Chiffchaff and Goldcrest. Not bad. Not bad at all.


  1. Now that is a good day! Beardies are rare up here though they do sometimes breed at West Chevington about 12 miles from me. We have only found one in an unexpected place here a lovely male in a small reedbed near Warkworth. I dont have any phragmites on my patches so its not on my hoped for list here...

    1. The birds I saw in Hyde Park were in a tiny bit of pretend 'reedbed', so they evidently don't need much. Must admit though, I don't think I've ever seen one in any other habitat.