It's Lu's birthday today so I hadn't planned to go birding. To wake up to the sound of rain hitting the bedroom window was quite honestly painful, especially after yesterday's Goldcrest fall. Any other day during the half-term and I would have been up like a shot, but it's tradition to 'push the boat out' a bit in our household - opening presents in bed, cooking breakfast etc, usually followed by some shopping somewhere. So it was in Topsham, just before we were about to sit down for a bite of lunch, that the phone rang. My heart sank. I just knew it was going to be a good bird but I didn't actually think it would be on Orcombe Point of all places! It was my good mate Dave 'Hoppers' Hopkins. He'd found a Pallas's Warbler at the entrance to the Bristol Schools Camp. I couldn't disguise my discomfort and Lu was quite rightly pretty p*ssed off with the timing of it all. I was tapping my fingers on the table as we waited for our order and I then had to endure yet more torture as Maisie and Lu looked around some shops whilst I waited in the car with Joel. I had hoped I'd get less twitchy as I got older but I reckon I've got worse - at least when Orcombe birds are involved. Anyway, to cut a long story short, the bird showed really well, almost as soon as I got there - a real beauty. It kept coming back to a leafless tree just inside the entrance to the Bristol schools Camp. It was with at least 20 Goldcrests, at least 1 Firecrest and 1+ Coal Tit which, to my eye, was the perfect blue-grey of a Continental bird, but it wouldn't stay still for long enough to be sure.
On the way back I checked Foxholes briefly. There were still plenty of Goldcrests around but fewer birds than yesterday.
I picked out the Black Brant off Mudbank and a first-winter Mediterranean Gull was new in. The adult bird was again on Warren View Football Pitch at the back of our house.
I was very surprised to get any shots of this bird. I didn't even try for a while - I just enjoyed watching it. Later on, as it dropped down in the leafless tree, I 'pointed and pressed' and was pleased to get some images.
Pallas's Warbler and Goldcrest.
Many of the Goldcrests appeared quite pale and this one, like a lot of others, was very grey around the head, neck and upper mantle. Martin Garner is doing some work on Goldcrests at the moment, which suggests some of our birds are coming from a long way east. I look forward to hearing more of his findings.