Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Scarcest Bird in 10 years?

Scarce Vagrant by Bruce Woodcock (c) 2014

Hunkered in the hedge against wind and twitchers,
a pale smudge in the quivering scope,
a white pocket, a touch of pink perhaps,  
it could be anything, but this
is the rarest bird I’ll ever see:
a masked shrike, an accidental, 
lost, blown across from Syria, 
or somewhere else in the Middle East, 
a fair exchange for our bombs, except
there’s a man keeps a list of all scarce vagrants
that arrive and get picked off by birds of prey,
hovering ghosts shadowing fields
’til they dive and strike and seize and squeeze
life from each unlooked-for surprise,
each bundle of feathers shivering on the edge.

We don't go chasing rare birds on the course, but when there is a really scarce bird somewhere we were already going, it would be rude to ignore it, wouldn't it?
Masked Shrike (c) 2014 Mike Robinson
 Redstart (c) 2014 Aileen Urquhart
 Blackbird (c) 2014 Aileen Urquhart
When we arrived at Kilnsea shortly after 8.45am the car park was already half full.  We walked the triangle and hadn't gone too far before I spotted a Redstart.  It immediately hid behind a waste bin.  We waited several minutes, and it came into the open for a few seconds each time, just long enough for everyone to get a good look at it.  We carried on a little further and came across a group of twitchers penned almost in a cattle enclosure.  We didn't join them, but struck out on our own, and had a look for any birds around the Church and another building, but didn't add much to our tally.  There was also very little to see in the Crown and Anchor car park.  We reached the river bank and could see plenty of Redshank, a large flock of Golden Plovers, a few scattered Dunlin and Ringed Plovers and a very distant flock of possible Knot.  When we carried on with our walk we found a couple of Curlew, but not a single Little Egret.   
Wren (c) 2014 Aileen Urquhart
 Curlew (c) 2014 Aileen Urquhart
As we walked along the river bank Anthony turned and spotted a pale blob about the right ear of a distant Roe Deer.    4 telescopes were soon trained on it, and this was the Masked Shrike everyone has been making so much fuss about since Saturday morning.  Eric's Kowa provided the best image in which details of plumage could be discerned.  In the afternoon it was far more distant, so we retraced our steps and swallowed our pride & joined the twitchers. 
A trip to Canal Scrape was a waste of time with no signs of the Jack Snipe in the morning.  In the afternoon the injured Redshank was there, as well as a very confiding Common Snipe, and a lovely Wheatear.  I left the afternoon group trying to locate the Jack Snipe.
 Roe Deer (c) 2014 Aileen Urquhart
 Immature Kestrel (c) 2014 Tony Robinson

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