Sunday, 30 September 2012

State of emergency

Well, it wasn’t a bloody Baillons, but it took us a few days to get on top of it. My assembled crack team (particle physicist, doting father, Yorkshire comedian and itinerant drifter of no fixed abode) invested much time and effort next day trying to pin it down, and despite mp3s, a ghetto blaster, garden shears, matches and a 5 litre canister of kerosene, it was all to no avail save for a 5 second glimpse for Simon, whose instant response was LITTLE. No luck for me, that day or the next, although I did somewhat limit my chances by sticking to the plan and clearing off to Lulu on Friday morning for a bout of more active hunting. At least out there if I found a bird that I couldn’t see, nobody else would be able to either. There has been plenty of migrants coming through throughout the second half of September, and Lulu, as usual, gave me a great sampling: three each for Golden Orioles and Nightjars plus the usual drizzling of Sylvias, wheatears – including my second Red-tailed of the year, shrikes and co. Plenty more this week have included a most unusual autumn Whinchat, a rather early Bluethroat and daily Spotted Flycatchers and hirundines, especially Sand Martins which are probably having their best ever September. All that has been great, but hardly in the league of

 yee gods - Little Crake

and an early start on Saturday morning, my fifth attempt at the time (and I have failed again a few times since), finally produced a countable, even decent view. Once we cleared that little urchin up, the temporary deadlock was well and truly broken and the year ticks started flowing again: Namaqua Dove within 30 minutes (only my 3rd ever on AD), next day Eurasian Spoonbill (was confident this one was coming eventually) and, a few days later, Temminck’s Stint, another target, but only just. A seemingly more secure target when all this began, Thrush Nightingale had long since been written off due to a miserable May, as I have just one autumn record, as opposed to ten spring ones in the entire country but the finding of one or two off-island on Friday last gave me hope and this culminated 24 hours later when one scudded across the road at the racecourse and was then professionally pished out off a dense bougainvillea for a wicked and educational view. Caspian Plover and Egyptian Nightjar, both also seen off-island last week (within 30 minutes of each other!;:-) have yet to appear closer to home, although represent real and rather long shots respectively. However, proof that I still was on a roll yesterday came when we found a roosting Barn Owl at Emirate’s Palace – my closest ever as I have never got within 6 feet of any in Norfolk – and only my fourth on the island plus the first, for anyone as far as know, since 2008. 

So I was over the hills and far away, until I decided to concur with Nick and revise a few targets. Moorhen, two Marsh Terns and Red-tailed Wheatear all doubtfully missed the cut back at the start of the year, so adding them to the expected total, now revised to 180, seems reasonable and means that for almost everything left that isn’t a target, I have seen two times (or less) locally in six years of hard slogging.


Total so far - 186 (103%)
Last additions – Thrush Nightingale and Barn Owl (29th September)



  2. Further revisions may be forthcoming, esp. if the likes of Barn Owl aren't on yours; I'm sure I saw 2-3 in 5 yrs ;) If no grey goose influx this autumn, I reckon axing Pink-footed and Bean (what was I thinking?!) from the annual-in-my-circle list will be more than reasonable. Ring Ouzel is hanging by a thread, too, pending some sort of inland arrival of autumn thrushes...