Posts Tagged ‘Red flanked Bluetail


Some you win … some you lose

I’ve been working at Wild Ken Hill for around seven months now leading some of the ‘Big Picture’ tours. The tours cover the coastal marsh, the regenerative agricultural implementations on the estate and also the 1000 acre rewilding area. At WKH they are doing some amazing things which I passionately believe we should be doing.

I don’t take my camera with me on the walks as it’s quite a heavy beast of a thing and can be a little strength sapping when on foot all day.

Tania came with me last Saturday, as she sometimes does. About 2 hours into the morning tour we were just starting to climb the hill that is ‘Wild Ken Hill’ within the rewilding area when I saw something flitting half-way up one of the Scots Pines. I raised my binoculars expecting to see a Robin. In fact what I saw floored me. The red wasn’t on the breast but down the flanks of the bird and as it turned I saw an ivory white throat and a beautiful blue tail. It was a female/first winter type Red flanked Bluetail. I forget what I actually said … but it was something quite exclamatory! The bird flew down to a pile of scrubby removed Rhododendrons and promptly disappeared.

I think this is the second March record for Norfolk. None of the twelve guests with us were bird watchers and I had a timetable to observe. However, I explained the significance of the sighting and reluctantly left the area, with more than a single backward glance, to continue the tour. In the short time we had available to look on the afternoon tour it was nowhere to be seen.

The following day, on Sunday, we decided to see if we could see any of the Garganey that had been reported at Cley NWT over the preceding week. Garganey, our only summer visiting duck, are normally elusive; preferring the shelter of vegetation and reedbeds to open water. After waiting unsuccessfully in one hide most of the morning we decided to have lunch back at the centre and try the centre group of hides in the afternoon.

As we got to the hides friends Greg and Andrew were departing and announced they had seen a pair going up and down the drain close in front of them. Well, they weren’t wrong. The birds were ridiculously close. I had to take off the extender and reset the minimum focusing distance. In fact I could have easily have taken photos on a mobile phone.

Sometimes you win by taking the camera … sometimes you lose when you don’t.


A Blue Tale

Having spent much of one morning after a fall of birds last week trying to find my own Red flanked Bluetail and only turning up a few ancillary birds I decided I would go and photograph the bird seen at Happisburgh. Although a late Spotted Flycatcher (eastern race?), Snow Bunting, Redstart, a heap of Brambling and a nice brown crowned eastern race Lesser Whitethroat are all good to see locally … they don’t hold a candle to a Bluetail.

Red flanked Bluetail 1


Red flanked Bluetail 2


The Great Fall of Twenty Twelve.

That’s how it will be known. The Great Fall of Twenty Twelve. It started on Monday 22nd October and the after effects are still being seen as I write this note on the Friday 26th. Birds are still re-orientating themselves now the mist and fog have gone; most of the Fieldfares and Redwings have moved through but there’s still lots of Blackbirds and Ring Ouzels with seven of the latter seen today at Overstrand and Sidestrand. Yesterday we even had a Black Redstart trying to get in the house!

It was Thursday however that was ‘my’ day. Walking beneath the edge of the reservoir the call of a bird in the scrub on the bank above me made me swing around and raise my bins. It was the unmistakable call of a Pallas’s Warbler. I couldn’t see it. Frustration set in. It was constantly calling but vegetation was in the way. I moved back a little and there it was, a full crown of stripes on this bright little sprite. It was agitated as though it had just made landfall. It flicked left and then right among the nettles. It was here and then it was gone. Despite an extensive search with others disappointingly it could not be relocated. I dearly would have liked to sit for a while and photograph it.

Not so frustrating further west was a Red flanked Bluetail. This bird found by Mick Sidwell was bouncing around the small campsite wood at Stiffkey but sat up to be photographed in the dull and dingy conditions.

Now where’s that Rubythroat?

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Apr 2023


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