Winter at Holme Bird Observatory (please click for clip)

Friday, 2 May 2014

Major spring mega - ALPINE ACCENTOR!

The week starting 21st April was just like any other, accept that my dissertation was due in on the Thursday! After I'd handed that in, a quick peek at the charts and conditions suggested Saturday 26th would be worth an early start, with the E winds having swung round the SE and rain on Friday and overnight. Myself and warden Sophie Barker thus were on site at about 06.45hrs. There was quite a lot of movement early on with a Ring Ouzel west, 3 Tree Pipits, 12 Yellow Wagtails and a few more grounded migrants, especially Whitethroats and Willow Warblers. On reaching the Observatory building, carrying rather too much, I'd put up a bird up off the benches which flew into the pines. I'd only seen it with the naked eye in flight, but it felt different. Over half an hour searching later this monster dropped out of the pines onto the handrail only a few feet away from me. Instantly it dawned on me, ALPINE ACCENTOR and being all alone I decided it was best to take a few pictures! Rather glad I did. 

It flew back up into the pines after about a minute, at which point I ran, screaming and crying(!), along the east bank to tell Sophie. A search revealed nothing and after closing nets it was time to put the news out. A long search ensued, with more Yellow Wagtails, Redstarts, Ring Ouzels and so on discovered, but there was no sign by dusk. I never imagined it wouldn't be seen again and I'm still amazed it wasn't. I would dearly have loved to share this bird with everyone. Thoughts especially with all the hardworking locals who didn't get to see it, especially Sophie Barker, Billy Rand, Rob Smith, Chris Mills, Penny Clarke and Ray Roche, who've always been so helpful and friendly to me. Thanks to everyone for the congratulations. Let's just hope the next one sticks...

This represents, unsurprisingly, the first record of ALPINE ACCENTOR for Holme. It is only the 35th British record, the first for a decade (since the last Norfolk record) and just the third for Norfolk:

2. One was discovered at Overstrand on the evening of 20th April 2004 (S. Chidwick et. al.) To the disappointment of many it was not present the next morning.
1. One on the cliff face between Sheringham and Weybourne (near Spalla Gap) 30th April to 4th May 1978 when it departed high the south-east (K. Shepherd et. al.) This bird, seen by very few observers, was trapped and ringed on the 1st May and was only the second Alpine Accentor to be ringed in the British Isles.

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