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Monday, 18 October 2010

Elusive Bluetail, showy White-heads and sub-liminal Pallas'


Arriving at Arnold's Walk, Lowestoft I was hoping to connect with yesterday's incredible sighting of a Red- flanked Bluetail by Robert Win, first seen in Sparrow's Nest and then rediscovered by Robert Wil in Arnold's walk. Seeing Robert Win already there half way down the path leading to the apple tree at the bottom, after few minutes Robert said he had just seen it. Walking further up the path, I saw a Robin-like bird with a blue tail, the excellent female/ 1st winter Red- flanked Bluetail fly across and down into the undergrowth. After 2 1/2 hours, where we were joined by the Winterton illuminati of Peter C and friend and nice to see Chris M and his dog too and regular correspondent Paul W, we were "treated" to long periods without seeing the bird interspersed with brief flight only views. The bird finally settled down into an area at the base of a sycamore where it was occasionally seen around some dead Alexander plants and it perched for a couple of minutes on one just a foot of the ground providing me with virtual exclusive pics of the bird (except for Andrew's modernist "blurtail"(his words not mine) pic, one for Tate Modern!)
I then travelled south to Southwold to the Camping site adjacent to the harbour road. Walking through the site to the far north- west corner by the toilet block, I met Chris D and followers and we first spotted the 2 excellent "Caudata" Northern race Long- tailed Tits with completely white heads and maybe a slightly longer tail making them very attractive birds indeed, flitting around the bushes on the western edge of a field north of the campsite, they were then around the toilet block and then round some buildings in trees before transferring to the hedgerow bordering the harbour road but often Chris was ahead of me, but I got my best shot against a green background, when one bird was fairly low down.
To my mind the high pitched call may have been a fraction higher pitched than "our" Long- tailed Tit but otherwise the calls were identical and lovely birds to see.
Next stop Sizewell, where parking opposite the Vulcan Arms, I logically (geddit?) walked into a field with bushes along the western end bordering the entrance road to Sizewell Nuclear Power station with heavy Police security present.
Eric P updated me that the bird had been seen recently but I had to wait twenty minutes before it showed briefly in a small bush right in front of us giving brief almost sub-liminal glimpses of part of its body; first the head with thick yellow supercilia, then the body with wing bars and white underparts and then the tail and lemon- yellow rump.
The bird was later seen aat the top of a Hawthorn and Sycamore tree where it was seen flitting about several times briefly.
Next stop Minsmere Island Mere where Gerald G held court in the hide with Paul W.
We saw Bitterns, probably 2 fly in and out of the left- hand end of the mere around the reedy edge.
Later on I spotted the excellent Great white Egret fly up from the right down a channel showing its large size and dagger like yellow bill.
The ever alert Paul spotted an excellent ringtail Hen Harrier and thanks to Gerald I was able to obtain 1 or 2 good shots as she flew past the hide. Female Marsh harrier seen here to. walking back to the car I saw a Red Deer on the hill.
walking down to the Red Deer rut watch point on Westleton Heath, 2 Curlew flew up and from the fence looking due south, several Red Deer could be seen including a fine Stag with an impessive set of antlers nonchalently sitting on the ground of the highest hill field.
1 or 2 other Stags were seen. The "mooed" frequently. 

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