A look at the weather forecast and it appeared a little sunshine would grace the charming village of Beeley in Derbyshire on Tuesday. I decided to make the journey across to see the Dusky Thrush that had been found there a few days earlier. The sunshine would be good for photography. An early rise and a busy drive later found me trying to find a parking space among the now bustling quaint lanes of the picture postcard venue. If I’d flown from the far east this is probably where I would have chosen to set up shop although exactly what this secluded inland village has in preference to Japan or even Korea I’m not sure.
The bird had been seen before my arrival but had flown off. I staked out an area with fallen apples that I was reliably told it had been frequenting. Redwings, Fieldfare and Blackbirds were everywhere; in much greater numbers than they are here in Norfolk. I didn’t have to wait long before this marvellous thrush flew in and gorged on the apples, much to the chagrin of a local blackbird that pursued the intruder with intent. The village is set in the valley bottom and the hills around were capped with low cloud; the light was dreadful for photography. Still, I fired off a few shots as best I could. It spent around 15 minutes in and around the orchard, mostly obscured, before flying away strongly with a few harsh and unfamiliar ‘creck, creck, creck’ calls. I waited several more hours and the sun did indeed come out… but the bird did not. It did return again but the air was milky and horrible by then so I put down the camera and had a damn good look. With the plumage of an ill painted bulky Redwing it showed the faint covert bar of a first winter bird. In some lights the secondary feather edges looked chestnut enough for a male; in other lights they looked dull enough to indicate I was watching a female. I guess if the bird stops for the winter we may find out its gender for sure towards the end of its stay. Any which way … its a fantastic bird to see.