The last two days at my local patch, Staunton Harold Reservoir, have produced a few good birds. Monday 21st October I had 3 Whooper Swans fly over the reservoir heading SW and then 30 minutes or so later a Red Kite flew over the dam wall. Then today, 22nd October, I found a pair of Brambling near the Yacht club. So 3 patch year ticks.
Then I get a phone call to say 3 Bearded Tits at Willington GP, so I made my way there but after nearly 3 hours searching, nothing more came of them. There was a female Brambling and a Willow Tit coming to the busy feeders, so it wasn’t a wasted journey.
The Long-billed Dowitcher returned to Willington Gravel Pits on the morning of Saturday 19th October. So I decided to have another attempt at photographing it. This time it seemed settled as it was roosting on a tiny island just from the main hide. It showed for a good 45 minutes before a Sparrowhawk flew through and flushed it and the accompanying Lapwings.
It flew off towards High Bridge Gravel Pits, where it was re-located briefly in the afternoon.
In the following 2 photographs you can clearly see the plain grey centred tertials which help to identify it from the rarer Short-billed Dowitcher.
The last thing I expected to see this morning was a first record for Derbyshire in the form of a 1st winter Long-billed Dowitcher. Found by Steve Porter first thing this morning, it disappeared for nearly 2 hours, before returning to Willington GP around 10:30am.
I managed a rush from work arriving on site around 11:15 and got to see the bird just before it flew out again around 11:25am. I managed a record shot, just as the wind blew the reeds apart once or twice. It flew off with Lapwings and 2 Ruff heading NE.
A North American Common Nighthawk was discovered by local anglers hunting along the River Maine at Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, in late September, rumour has it.
It didn’t take long before birders had been to check it out and sure enough, it was a superb adult male Common Nighthawk. It was then discovered roosting on a log of a fallen tree in a nearby horse field, giving amazing views of a very difficult bird to view in the British Isles.
As the bird was remaining very site faithfull and obviously settled, I made the journey across to Northern Ireland, my very first visit, on Sunday (13th October) on the early morning Stena Line Ferry from Cairnryan, Stranraer. It is only a two hour crossing and a half hour drive to the site from Belfast harbour. So by 9;15 am we were watching this amazing bird, giving crippling views as it roosted on its favoured log.
The only issue we had was from the small group of over friendly horses that kept coming up to us and almost demanding attention. They would then make their way over to the fallen tree, eventually flushing off the Nighthawk that would then make a stunning fly pass, before entering another favoured roosting spot in a nearby tree. It would then spend the rest of the day in the tree until dark, before putting on its aerial display along the river.
A superb twitch, organised by Rob and accompanied by Mike & Chris. A great but tiring day out, well worth the effort.
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