Arctic Warbler twitch – Kilnsea 14 October 2017

Arctic Warbler twitch – Kilnsea 14 October 2017

Having got back from an after school twitch to see a Rock Thrush the day before at 9 pm, I was straight to bed.  The next day was a Saturday and I had another bird to see!

Arctic Warbler is a non-rarity in the UK but is one of only 3 non-rarity birds that I have not seen. They all tend to occur on the east coast of England, which is across the country to where I live, as we are based on the South West coast.
We were up very early (meaning the middle of the night!) again on Saturday 14th October 2017, the first day of my half-term holiday.    There was an Artic Warbler at Kilnsea in East Yorkshire which is next to Spurn a huge birding hotspot.  I slept whilst Dad drove us to the bird and we arrived at about 8.30am. The Artic Warbler was being seen in the pub car park and so we joined about another 30 birders to look for it. 

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Arctic Warbler twitch, Kilnsea, East Yorkshire 14 October 2017
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

It wasn’t long before we saw the Arctic Warbler, showing high in the trees about the car park, getting really great views. We watched it off for another couple of hours before we headed off. It was really flighty so, despite my best efforts, I didn’t get a photograph of it. It was really amazing to see this bird. It wasn’t the rarest but it was special. Now only two non-rarities to see in the UK, Little Auk and Icterine Warbler which are both also east coast birds. It was also a new world for me, number 4725, not that I’m counting.

We then drove down the road to Easington, to see a Rose-coloured Starling which was in someone’s front garden and actually managed to get some photographs of it.

Rose-coloured Starling, Easington, East Yorkshire 14 October 2017
Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Rose-coloured Starling, Easington, East Yorkshire 14 October 2017
Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

I had revision to do on the way home and Dad drove me home as quick as he could, as I had a party and sleepover with friends at 3 pm. As usual, I didn’t mention what I had been doing…all my friends had been sleeping in all morning in preparation for the party.

It was my 3rd new bird of the season and I was hopeful that there would be more to come.

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Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush twitch 13 October 2017

Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush twitch 13 October 2017

Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush 30 October 2017
Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

There are some days that stand out in terms of how lucky I am to have the parents I do – obsessed with birds as much as me but still prepared to put their passion alongside rather than ahead of mine.

There had been news of a Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush found in the Brecon Beacons on a Thursday, whilst I was at school. I headed to school the next day which was Friday 13th October 2017 with no sitting of the bird before I left home, so I assumed that like many others, it was a one day bird. It was my last day of term before the autumn half term holiday, so I was hoping that the holidays was going to be good for birds. This year I am in Year 11 and taking my GCSE exams in June. I have my mock exams in November so really need to do lots of revision during the holiday too.

Mum was in London and expected back that evening so that Friday was just an average day for me. We are not allowed to look at our phones at school and so I didn’t pick up the texts from my dad.

I boarded my school bus home at 3.25 pm as usual, when I saw my dad making his way from one bus to another. He knocked on our bus window and asked if I was on board? I knew I had to get off the bus, so told my mates that I probably had a dentist appointment. As I got off the bus, he whispered (so as not to embarrass me) that the Rock Thrush was still there and that we had just about enough time to get there.  What a legend my dad is. He had already seen a Rock Thrush before and all this effort was just so that Mum and I could see it.

We drove straight towards Bristol and met up in a car park with Mum and her friend Lorna, who was staying with us. It was to be Lorna’s first twitch! They had been in London for a couple of nights and Mum had rushed back early to meet us.

Dad drove pretty fast to get to the beautiful Brecon Beacons in Mid Wales, getting us there at 5.30pm.  As we rushed along the path to where the bird was being seen, we bumped into our long time birding friend and big British twitcher Julian Thomas. He told us that the Rock Thrush was still there but was being seen a little way away from the path. It had been raining and was very cloudy, so the light was fading fast.

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig digiscoping Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Brecon Beacons 13 October 2017
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig digiscoping Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Brecon Beacons 13 October 2017
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig  at Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush twitch, Brecon Beacons 13 October 2017
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig  at Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush twitch, Brecon Beacons 13 October 2017
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

When we got to the bird, it was perched in view, but some way away.  Once we had seen it, although not fantastically, it was a big relief.  We then watched and waited and eventually were rewarded with slightly better views just as it started to rain. It was my second new bird of the autumn and great to see this European Rock Thrush.

Record shot of Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Brecon Beacons 13 October 2017
Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Record shot of Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Brecon Beacons 13 October 2017
Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Needless to say, Lorna was not overly impressed with her first (and probably last) twitch!
After some chips in Abergavenny, we made it home by 9 pm. On the way home, I posted my very terrible “record shots” on twitter, much to the hilarity of my birding followers. The Rock Thrush was also a new bird in the world for me (4724), which was fantastic.

Postscript

The Rock Thrush stayed around for a while, which was lucky, as we were able to return on Monday 30th October 2017, which was an inset day before I went back the next day.

Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush 23 October 2017
Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush 23 October 2017
Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush 23 October 2017
Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

This time the weather was clear and sunny and the bird really confiding. We got some brilliant views and had another lovely birding day out with my parents.

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Cedar Waxwing twitch – St Agnes, Isles of Scilly 7 October 2017

Cedar Waxwing twitch – St Agnes, Isles of Scilly 7 October 2017

Cedar Waxwing twitch, Isles of Scilly 7 October 2017
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

During the week, we heard the news that a Cedar Waxwing had been found on St Agnes on the Isles of Scilly. This is part of a small island chain off the southwest tip of Cornwall, Southern England and my favourite place in the world, so I was really excited that I might be visiting again.

This was a bird that many twitchers had seen in early 1996, but dad missed it as he was busy in his new relationship with mum and then the day he did finally go up to Nottinghamshire, he missed the bird. It was one of those birds that Mum and Dad really wanted to catch up with and so I was really appreciative that they waited for the weekend to take me with them.

We were up in the middle of the night to drive down to Penzance, to get the boat to St Mary’s on the Isle of Scilly. We had a phone call from our great friend Rob Lambert who was staying on St Mary’s as usual to say that his wife was on the train, which had run into trouble on the way to Penzance. She was therefore in a taxi speeding to the quayside and could we look out for her and help her with her suitcase. Dad is great at that kind of thing and made sure Lucy [McRobert] got onto the boat. Mum and I were already asleep on the bottom deck of the boat, trying to avoid seasickness.

As soon as we arrived in Hugh Town on St Mary’s, a whole load of us rushed off the Scillonian to jump on the small boat to St Agnes, which was waiting for us. The boat was packed with people and it was later to be the source of online discussion about how most of the people on the boat were older white men. Some really were pretty old, which I thought was pretty amazing. I hope I’m still twitching when I’m 90 years old!

Cedar Waxwing twitch, Isles of Scilly 7 October 2017
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Once we arrived in St Agnes, we had quite a walk to where the bird had been seen, on the path down from Coastguards’ Cafe. Once there, we managed to get to the front of the crowd, when we got the news that the bird had been seen but on the other side of a huge hedge. We waited for quite a while whilst others saw the bird, then eventually we cracked and ran around a big wall with Lucy to get to the bird. Somehow we managed to get to the front of the crowd again and see the Cedar Waxwing, as it pops up in the hedge. It was tricky to get onto and get others onto but eventually, I managed to set up my telescope at the front of the crowd, allowing other birders to take turns to see the waxwing.

Cedar Waxwing twitch, Isles of Scilly 7 October 2017
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Cedar Waxwing is the American version of our waxwing and it was fantastic to see. It was also a new bird in the world for me, which is always a bonus and was 4,723 which feels like I’m on the downward roll to 5,000. I want to try and see 5,400 bird species in the world by the time I’m 18 years old, which would be half the world’s birds.

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