Thursday 21 November 2019

Vagrant Emperor: Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory, Kent - 20 Nov 2019

I don't often think of late November as being prime Odonata time, so was hardly expecting to see a new species during a frosty spell... Pager news earlier in the week of a female Vagrant Emperor in The Elms at Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory seemed too good to be true, especially as the beast in question was sticking to its favourite branch in the chilly conditions - but whereas most things that seem to good to be true are usually naff, the same wasn't true for this individual.

An extended lunch-break enabled John and I to head east to Sandwich and then find the required woodland. Finding the right twig was, however, a rather more challenging task and we resorted to extra help to locate our quarry.

Thankfully, SBBOT Vice-Chairman, Sally Hunter came up trumps with not just accurate directions, but also a lift back round the corner to The Elms and the a guided tour to the Vagrant Emperor which was still clinging to its chosen twig. Seeing something completely new is always a treat - a big, big thank you to Sally for all her help for getting us happily back on the road and, for me, back in the office...

I think this puts me on 44 Odonata for the UK (with Red-veined Darter, Lesser Emperor and Dainty Damselfly all currently eluding me - not that I've put any effort in to seeing them, honest!).

Happy Days  - thanks Sally!

Saturday 2 November 2019

Presumed Paddyfield Pipit: Sennen, Cornwall, 2 November 2019

It was many moons ago that I ripped out the pipit page from my field guide... after all, what chance of a Siberian Buff-bellied Pipit (A. r. Japonicus) in the UK?

News then of an odd large pipit in a soggy Sennen was initially met with little excitement - news though of its continued stay was providing local birders with prolonged viewing opportunities as well as sound recording and even mDNA sampling via droppings.

Expert opinion seemed to be pointing towards an incredulous outcome - could this really be a Paddyfield Pipit? Should we wait for nice weather to go and see a potential 'First for Britain'? No!

Despite a very obviously naff weather forecast for the Saturday (2 Nov), we headed out at 5am. And it really did get f****** windy. With trees and branches down along the route, we eventually arrived to find a soggy field being battered by gales and rain - perfect...not!

Well, we weren't going to see this thing in the car, so eventually we ventured out and got muddy - very muddy. As fortune had it, all was not to be lost and by the great hand of the birding gods in teh sky, I relocated our quarry by pure chance as I slipped my way to seek a new (sheltered) vantage point.

So what was it? Well, I don't know - but the acoustics do indeed seen to point to this being Paddyfield Pipit. And if the mDNA confirms that, it would potentially be the most outstanding rare passerine records I will ever see in the UK. I for one do not think this could be and escape of ship-assisted - but we'll just have to wait to see what the DNA doctors make of samples taken...

Presumed Paddyfield Pipit (Lee Gregory - that's name of the photographer, not the bird)
Presumed Paddyfield Pipit (Lee Gregory)
Paddyfield crowd...
Cornish paddyfield...