It is not often that I have “Twitched” a rare bird in Wales, but today was an exception as there has been a male Rock Thrush taken up residence in a quarry near Blaenavon, near Abergavenny in South Wales. Rock Thrush is a rare vagrant to our shores from southern and eastern Europe and should be wintering in north west Africa. It has been a long time since I saw my first one of these birds in Britain. It was another male on the golf course at Hunstanton in Norfolk. I have managed to see quite a few on my travels in various countries in Europe. This bird showed well in Pwll-Du Quarry, where it has been for the past week or so.
Hurricane Ophelia has hit the UK and brought with it dust from the Sahara Desert and debris from forest fires in Spain and Portugal. The dust has caused shorter wavelength blue light to be scattered, leaving longer wavelength red light to shine through it. Ophelia originated in the Azores where it was classed as a hurricane. It has been tracked on its way northwards and has dragged in tropical air from the Sahara. The sky over my house in South Derbyshire this lunchtime turned dark and orange, almost apocalyptic and sent birds heading off to roost. By 3pm the sky was blue, bright sunshine and the cloud had disappeared.
A juvenile Long-tailed Skua has been site faithful to the golf links at Goswick in Northumberland. The bird has been frequenting the greens and the fairways of this stunning golf course, particularly the 4th, 7th and 8th holes. We visited the course yesterday (Sunday 15th Oct 2017), an epic 12 hour day and just under a 500 mile round trip. As my wife, Helen said to me last night when we arrived back home, a great day, I got a bowl of soup out of it and I saw a Long-tailed Skua. I say that’s a success!! The bird has brought a whole new meaning to a birdie! but not an Eagle or an Albatross – a “Skua” !! I was beginning to think the bird wouldn’t perform. A gale force wind, lots of corvids mobbing it every time it flew and the golf course was very busy due to a competition. Eventually though, I scored and managed a few images of a superb bird. A great day but very difficult.
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