Sunday 24 September 2023

Making Do

To say that I was completely unaffected by the multiple arrival of American landbirds elsewhere would be a lie. I am only human. Indeed, thank goodness I am no longer on Twitter, where my retinas would daily be seared by point-blank images of the things. My involvement in this episode is therefore limited to no more than hoping one falls in my lap locally. Oh, and lust. And envy.

Portland currently has a Red-eyed Vireo. I am not greedy, one of those would do just fine. On Friday morning I went hunting for such a bird at Cogden before work. I didn't find any, but was nicely compensated with a few bits: 26 Blackcaps, 8 Chiffs, 4 Whinchats, and singles of Whitethroat, Wheatear and Spotted Flycatcher...

Cogden Beach at 08:00. Wheatear in right foreground.

The autumn colours of a male Wheatear are as smart, in their way, as those of springtime. Especially against dewy shingle in the warm light of early morning sunshine. Gorgeous.

Sun-kissed Spot Fly.

While scanning a field for Whinchats I noticed a small bird dangling from a Dog Rose stem. From far away it looked like a Robin, possibly a dead Robin. However, as I approached to investigate, the bird wriggled pitifully. So I took a quick record shot of this bizarre event in case the Robin freed itself before I reached it. Which in fact it did.

Both feet are free; the bird's wing is presumably hooked up on the thorns. I've never seen anything quite like this.

Meanwhile, just along the coast at West Bexington, Mike and Alan had a brief encounter with a Melodious Warbler. Brilliant! I do often wonder how much is missed locally in all this wonderful habitat. If 500 birders were forcibly drafted in to comb a few miles of our local coast for a week, what might be unearthed? Instead, there is no more than a handful of us. Mind you, I do prefer it that way. You never feel that you are treading paths already thrashed by a legion of keenies, hoping they may have left some crumbs of interest. Rather, every outing is like breaking new ground. Fantastic stuff, even when there are no vireos.

Yesterday afternoon I was back at Cogden. A warm, sunny Saturday afternoon on the Dorset coast, with a fairly full car park, and yet in almost three hours I passed no more than two or three people. Okay, there were far fewer birds than on Friday morning, but sometimes it's not about quantity. Rounding a corner I flushed two birds off the deck and into some bushes. Something made me back off into a shady spot and wait. I'm glad I did, because this popped out...

Still a Dorset biggie - male Cirl Bunting.

There is a major success story involving Cirl Bunting and Cogden but, as far as I know, none had been seen there for eight weeks. Up until four weeks ago I hadn't visited Cogden for about 10 months, so a male Cirl Bunting was not on my radar at all. A passing dog walker flushed it, plus the second bird which I had not up to that point seen again. A bit of stealth got me this shot...

Not as obliging as the male, but definitely a Cirl Bunting and likely a juv. At least two juvs were seen in early August.

By sheer coincidence the local farmer appeared. Eagerly I conveyed the good news, and he was as excited as I was. As if to reward our appreciation, the male Cirl suddenly appeared on top of a nearby bush. I gave Adam my bins while I papped away...

Not a vireo, but it made my day. And not just mine.

So, in the current absence of American warblers, I will make do.

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