Sunday, 2 November 2014

1 Nov 2014 - Brotton, Cleveland

On 23 October 2009, I was on a pelagic off the Queensland coast of Australia, enjoying a few shearwaters, turtles and Humpback Whales - little did I know that back home my fellow crew were enjoying a First for Great Britain & Ireland in the form of an Eastern-crowned Warbler. The comments from Adam Whitehouse, on my blog post for that day (see here), were amusing at the time and even more amusing today.

That six month trip to Australia and New Zealand, cost me Sandhill Crane and Eastern-crowned Warbler - though I only live and work 20 minutes from the Tufted Puffin, I'm (nearly) certain I wouldn't have got to it in time... I unblocked the Sandhill Crane on 23 Sept 2011 in Aberdeenshire, but still the Warbler niggled me...

Fast forward to Thursday and news broke of an Eastern-crowned Warbler at Brotton, Cleveland - I wanted to see it, but... The 'But' was that it had been Max's 6th birthday on the 29 Oct - and we'd arranged for a woodland camping party for him on 31st - so no Thursday night travelling. With further family events planned for the weekend and a busy few days at work, I wasn't going to be able to travel north - until one very sickly sounding sister phoned to apologise, most profusely, that she'd have to cancel her visit - bloody marvellous!! Ten minutes later and I was on the M20 and on my way.

The drive to Cleveland was thankfully uneventful, but with clear skies I must admit I was feeling less than positive about my chances... Dossing in the car, I was on site and up at first light, trying to get the gen and working out where best to stand. Two groups formed - I positioned myself between them. I saw some movement in the further group so decided to head that way. Sure enough, they'd got the bird - sat there quietly in a Sycamore, snapping at the occasional insect. Clean white underparts, no tertial markings, single wingbar, pale underside to the lower mandible, it then tilted its head forward to reveal a central crown stripe. Nice! Job done.

Given such excellent first views, I kicked myself for not even thinking about the camera on my shoulder - but possibly that's the best way to do things. When later I did try and fire a shot, I realised that there was a fault somewhere with my camera. Particular thanks then to Tony Dixon for allowing me to reproduce his excellent images of today's gem - though quite how he manages to achieve such images by digi-binning, I have no idea!

Eastern-crowned Warbler, copyright Tony Dixon
Eastern-crowned Warbler, copyright Tony Dixon
Eastern-crowned Warbler, copyright Tony Dixon
What next? Tufted Puffin?

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