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Hoopoe

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A Hoopoe was a surprise visitor to a small village in Beds.  Only a few minutes away from home, I scooted up to Northill during my lunch break and was lucky to see it fly past me shortly after arriving. It then landed onto the buttresses of St Mary the Virgin church before flying off again toward the graveyard.  Always a lovely bird to see whether home or abroad, but this was only my 3rd for the UK.

Stiffkey - Rufous-tailed Bush Robin

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October is a phenomenal month for birding, where the unexpected is somewhat expected but in what form is down to the birding gods.  The Rufous-tailed Bush Robin was first reported on Saturday morning - wholly unexpected - an absence from the UK of around forty years demonstrates just how scarce this species is.  I'd tried to prise them out in Spain in the past with no success - they're not easy to find and are relatively scarce breeders across the Iberian Peninsular. Heading back from Scillies on the Saturday, an early alarm call and I was on my way to Stiffkey for first light. A fair sized group had already congregated in an area of arable immediately west of the car park.  Thankfully the bird was still present feeding amongst the stubble and short scrub along the field margin.  The long rufous tail was conspicuous in the low morning light - rising and dipping as it scampered around picking off small inverts.  It was damp and very gloomy on the Norfolk coast.   A really satis

Scillies - Day 14

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An interesting day with the thoughts of leaving looming large on the horizon.  A long walk was planned today in the hope of kicking up something along the way.  Finding a Red-breasted Flycatcher along the slopes of the allotments on the west side of Porthcressa heightened hopes for the day. This interesting yet rather bedraggled Meadow Pipit resembled features of the Icelandic race appearing much darker than its warmer counterparts. Making slow and deliberate progress was reaping its rewards in modest ways.  At least three House Martin were associating with Swallow as seen from the Penninis Trail.  Pausing for a while at the Old Town Churchyard, a male Blackcap , two Firecrest , and a flyover Grey Wagtail  kept hope bubbling away.  There was a notable increase in Goldcrest numbers. While checking out the sallows in the standing stones field, a Yellow-browed Warbler popped out - a lovely bird of course but there was hope of something a little scarcer.  Four more were seen/heard la

Scillies - Day 13

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It was a glorious day today.  The sun was shining, the sky blue, and the wind had dropped.  Wasn't sure where to stroll today so headed along the path towards Penninis from Porthcressa.  Both Redwing and Fieldfare were features today with both species searing overhead in reasonable numbers.  Swallow were pulsing through Porthcressa Bay. Strolling slowly along the track bumping into a few birders along the way, my mind was made up for a trip to St. Agnes, and there were a couple of incentives. An about-turn and just a few metres along the track, a stonking male Ring Ouzel scampered along the path halting our progress - adorning a gorgeous gorget and shimmering wings. A little further just before the allotments, a vocal Yellow-browed Warbler busied itself in the morning sun.  Piling onto a packed boat to St. Agnes proved that the American Buff-bellied Pipit was a popular bird that wasn't too difficult to pin down at the stunning Horse Point.  While associating with a group o

Scillies - Day 12

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More ramblings today heading first to Penninis where after a couple of attempts, the Snow Bunting was feeding close to the lighthouse showing really well, and a lovely one too. Bumping into Rob Stonehouse, we heading down toward Porth Hellick checking the airfield for anything that may have dropped in but it was all very quiet.  A lone Wheatear was present along the coastal path near the airfield. Heading down toward the pool, a Lapwing was seen flying north over the downs - a bonus bird as this was my first ever on Scillies in six years.  We also saw it fly during the afternoon. An area of bracken near Camel Rock where the Little Bunting had been frequenting the previous day  popped out briefly onto the path after a short wait, disappearing again into the long grass. A lot of walking and very little of note, missing out on the Barred Warbler above Watermill that inconveniently decided to bunk off for a bit. Back at Porth Hellick, two Jack Snipe were bobbing by Stephen Sussex hide

Scillies - Day 11

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A trip to Tresco today.  Yesterday had seen a flurry of interesting vagrants onto the island suggesting there was plenty around.  The weather was changeable, blustery with frequent showers.  It didn't feel great out there demonstrated by just how difficult it was to catch up with some hoped for species. Wandering around Abbey Pool, two Crossbill flew over calling.  A single Snipe was present on the far side of the pool, and the three resident Black Swan were looking typically ornamental.  Grey Heron  numbers had increased to nine by late afternoon on Abbey Pool with two  Little Egret  there. Great Spotted Woodpecker on the Isles is still a rare commodity so one in the Abbey Gardens was a welcome sighting although I can foresee this being a more frequent occurrence.  Around the Abbey, two Firecrest , and three Yellow-browed Warbler all showed really well at times.  On the great pool, five Wigeon , two Pochard , three Shoveler , three Redshank , Greenshank and a Mute Swan were pr

Scillies - Day 9 & 10

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To be honest, I was still annoyed this morning.  The only way to appease this was to head to Bryher again in the hope that the bird was still there.   A couple of hours had passed with no sign at all.  I'd ambled off in the hope of finding something else lurking within the vegetation.  I could hardly believe it when my phone chimed with the news that it had been seen again.  Sprinting back to the location, and a short wait, the diminutive  catharus appeared, and showed brilliantly at times as it flitted around the thickets. Such redemption and a huge relief after the calamity of yesterday.  A brilliant bird, noticeably smaller than Song Thrush, with clean pale underparts and that diagnostic eye-ring.   It was just wonderful to observe.   The day had started on the Garrison where a single flyover Redwing was the only sighting of note. Later, a walk around Porthloo beach was brimming with waders with at least 45 Sanderling , and two Bar-tailed Godwit feeding along the shoreline wi