Friday, 22 January 2010

Rare Red Herring

With the weather at least looking dry I decided on an early start and something rare to start the day. With that in mind a quick two hours door to door and as the gloomy greyness that passed for a dawn today clung on for all it was worth I stepped out of the car in the tiny North Yorkshire village.
This unassuming backwater had been the scene of an alleged frenzied attack on an innocent garden at the weekend by one of the Daleks (short, fat and big lens). Just ignore that last sentence if you haven't been following the latest birder/photographer in bad behaviour episode.

Today all was calm and well behaved, Lancs photographer Gary Jenkins had the prime position and the Black-throated Thrush behaved impeccably for an hour acting like it owned the place and 'doing grievous' to a couple of local Blackbirds. The light was dreadful in fact I was at 1/50-1/80 shutter speed range to even get a recognisable record shot.

Black-throated Thrush, female,
Newholm, North Yorkshire
A Willow Tit put in a brief appearance in a nearby garden for a year tick but unfortunately the aforementioned eagle eyed GJ called it first and cheated me out of a self found year tick.
I came back via Sleddale on the North York Moors and whilst I had a few confiding Red Grouse I failed to see any raptors more exciting than a Kestrel. Two Green Woodpecker on a wall adjacent to a large area of heather moor appeared slightly out of place.

Red Grouse, male
Sleddale, North Yorkshire

Halfway back an email came through from Birdguides that the Water Pipit was 'showing well' at St Mary's Island, with an hour spare I changed route back through the Tyne Tunnel and nipped down to see if I could get a picture, you guessed it, not a sniff.
However whilst wandering around the large rafts of washed up seaweed I did come across several Turnstone feeding on what I think are the Ray's Bream that Tim Sexton has mentioned on his blog. I have read in the murky past of Turnstone feeding on human corpses and they certainly appeared to be relishing the fish, repeatedly coming back to tuck in even though I was crouched only 5metres away. It made for an interesting end to the day.

Turnstone feeding on Ray's Bream


Brian Robson said...

We were wondering about those fish at St Marys Alan, seemed to be several in the tide wrack on Sunday, all attended by a few Turnstone. Ive never heard of Rays sea bream so i will need to do a bit of googling to find out a bit more. Canny pic of the Thrush despite the light conditions.

Bethan said...


Bob Bushell said...

They are really beautiful, especially the Thrush and the Turnstone.

Stewart said...

A bit twitchy there Alan. I had male Black throated Thrush ( Peterborough), Cedar Waxwing ( Notts) and Laughing Gull ( Sunderland) all on the same day in 1996 I think??? A best day if ever there was one....

Newton Stringer said...

That grouse pic with the heather is a cracker !

Interestingly quite a few farmers I've been working with have been reporting red grouse away from the moors during that hard weather...

alan tilmouth said...

Stewart, I think my favourite birding period was 8 days in June 91 Franklin's Gull, Long-tailed Skua,Pacific Golden Plover, King Eider,Pied Wheatear, Woodchat Shrike, Honey Buzzard and a Spoonbill (the latter on the patch).

Stringer, doesn't surprise me grouse have been moving down, there must have been almost no heather visible. Pleased you appreciate the photo, I located the site on GPS, ID'd the bird with my online Field Guide, grabbed the image with the DSLR although not before I had to make some minor adjustments to the heather (no one saw me)but I think it was worth it LOL.