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Sunday, 29 April 2018

Birding: sometimes there are good days, sometimes there are bad day, but sometimes! (Updated 21.00)

An actual Chasewater Bird! - Photo: Derek Lees
It was not an auspicious beginning. I had intended to get up at 07.00 and make an early start to Chasewater in the hope of seeing or hearing the Cettie's Warblers that have just arrived there for the first time. Unfortunately, I actually opened my eyes at 07.40 and by the time I had washed, dressed and had the essential cup of tea to kick start my system it was already 08.15.

Still, a brisk walk across the top of Brownhills Common ensued with me wondering if I would be too late to catch these birds doing their early morning territorial singing and also wondering if there was any chance at all of getting a fleeting view of one. I arrived just before 09.00 and walked to the area where the birds had been reported. half way along the pool was a single tree growing close in to the bank and as I approached that, an explosion of sound! A singing Cettie's Warbler.

Now we used to have regular holidays at Weymouth in the nineties and I have spent many hours there pursuing and watching Cettie's and some of the best advice I ever received was from one of the wardens there. Cettie's can be ventroloquiel. Wherever you are hearing the song from, the bird may well be four or five feet below. I had put that principle into practise many times and it had got me my first ever Staffordshire bird at Handsacre Flash (seen by me and one other guy while everyone else was looking too high) and it also enabled me to relocate a bird at Lower Moors on the Scillies (the only time there was ever a cue of about twelve people waiting to look through my grotty old kowa telescope). Based on these successes I did the same today and bingo, there was the Cetties flicking around between the dense inner branches of the tree and the embankment.

This would have been enough to make the day a success but this notoriously difficult species to view then performed for almost five minutes giving me some of the best and most sustained views of the species I have ever had.

Another actual Chasewater one - Photo: Derek Lees
Were this not enough the bird then flicked up onto a higher branch, cocked its tale and sang and as it did, another chestnut/mahogany toned bird flew out from the trees at the east end of the pool, went past my bird and dropped into cover on my right. I looked down and the first bird was still present where I had last seen it - I had just seen two Cettie's, confirming the suspicions expressed on the Chasewater website for the last few days. This afternoon John Holian also went after the Cettie's and had a similar experience, hearing and seeing a Cettie's within a minute or so of arriving!

Other birds seen today included all three hirundine, Swift and a Common Sandpiper on the dam. I also had a report of a Yellow Wagtail on the dam, but that had gone by the time I had got there. This was a shame because I did find Pied and Grey Wagtail on the dam and a Yellow would have completed the set for the day!

As for our patch I have received an e-mail from Wendy Hanby to say that there are three Common Sandpiper on the Mere this morning as well as a good number of Swallow and House Martin. Wendy also had views of our first ducklings, a party of eight mallard chicks.
Ray Fellows also connected with a Common Sandpiper but also had both Common and Arctic Tern today.

Wow - an unexpectedly successful day for everyone it seems! having a few of those lately, lets hope we can keep it up? - Chaz