Saturday, 18 May 2013

MEGA ALERT " Dusky Thrush at Margate cemetery for it's third day "

I woke on Saturday morning with the intention of taking the Jim's down to Reculver to see if we could find the Montagu's Harrier. I've been following local patch worker Marc Heaths blog and thought our chances would be good but checking for any bird news before we set off the message posted at almost midnight on Friday read "MEGA Dusky Thrush at Margate cemetery for it's third day" now Dusky Thrush don't land in Blighty very often, this would be the tenth ever record for Britain and you'd have to go back a few decades to find the last "twitchable" one so this bird was going to bring out the birding community on mass and it did.

We arrived at 7am after a little postcode chase when we got there and found the cemetery alive with birders probably three hundred or so and we had the bird from the path without entering. (235) We then entered and spent two hours distantly watching the bird mostly in tree tops above the mass of twitchers below some being very well behaved, some standing back in a dark corner hoping the bird would come to them and some not so well behaved chasing the bird from tree top to tree top but this was a bird to excite everybody.
Jonathan Lethbridge was there for his 400th lifer accompanied by Dave Bradnum both local guys we see around a lot. Mick Southcott was there waiting patiently away from the crowd hoping the bird would come to him and pose for a photograph, Lee Evans and Gary Bagnall were seen with a host of other birders who are known more by face than name to me but it was good to say hello to lot's of the faces.

The Thrush should be in Siberia so is a little lost. It took three days to get the news out as the finder wasn't sure what he'd found with Redwing being his initial thought I'm told and I suppose also there must have been some dilemma about putting the news out knowing that thousands of twitchers would descend on the town over the weekend but I think the magnitude of the bird took away any debate and the news had to go out.
Thankfully we saw the news which enabled us to see the bird probably the only one I'll ever see so a big thank you to the finder and let's hope the community respects the bird and the venue, after all it is a place of rest.

I managed a poor record shot as evidence of the twitch.

Female Dusky Thrush Margate cemetery 18th May 2013
From the cemetery we made our way across Kent some ten miles to Reculver where we parked below the towers and had the Montagu's in the scope from the towers within seconds (236) this is how birding should be every pull up and there's the bird waiting for you to see it. We walked out past the Oyster farm to get a better view and enjoyed great views as the bird quartered the fields around us. We spend a few hours watching in the company of local patch worker Marc Heath which was nice then reports came in of yesterdays Red Backed Shrike being located about a mile further down the track so we took a slow walk towards it enjoying the Harrier some more on the way and with the surprise of a Short Eared Owl and a male Marsh Harrier along the way.

Montagu's Harrier
Montagu's Harrier 
Short Eared Owl
We didn't find the Red Backed Shrike despite a good few birders looking for a couple of hours.
On the way home news landed of a Cattle Egret which according the the postcode meant a two mile detour so we decided to try for it. The postcode on the pager took us to a railway gate at the back of Shorne Marsh RSPB only to find the gate welded shut then a second message on the pager this time giving a street name so we moved on down the road two miles and parked up to make the two mile walk back to the locked gate and about 400 yards beyond to view the Cattle Egret distantly feeding not surprisingly in a field of cattle. Tick 3 for the day and 237 for the year with 317 now on the life list as I chase down the magic 400 whilst sticking to that soft two hour twitch rule I have self imposed as a sense check on this mad hobby.

What a day. It'll live long in the memory for sure.

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