October 17th : Hampshire & Kent
1st winter Wilson's Phalarope.
On Saturday the 17th October we headed to Keyhaven Marshes in Hampshire in the hope of seeing the long staying Wilson's Phalarope.
However approx 1 & half hours into the journey the MEGA alert went of informing us that an Eastern Rufous Bush Chat had been found at Stiffkey campsite in Norfolk.
Our heads were spinning at this point , do we divert to Norfolk or carry onto Hampshire, we decided to carry on to Hampshire for fear of the huge crowds (covid-19 being the real fear) which would no doubt descend on Stiffkey .
Digi scoped Wilson's Phalarope.
Having made the decision we kept on going and just as we reached Keyhaven Marshes the MEGA alert went off again , the message read : MASKED SHRIKE Shuart Kent !!!!!
Now this was becoming a joke , a first for Kent no more then 25 mins from my home and i am in Hampshire !!!!!!
Well as you can see we had some fantastic views of the Wilson's Phalarope and having now seen 5 of these superb waders i have to say this is the best & closest views i have ever had of one.
We spent an hour watching this superb bird in all it's glory , however we decided that it was time to head full speed to Shuart in Kent for the Masked Shrike !!
Shuart Farm Kent
1st winter Masked Shrike.
So after a 3 hour long drive from Hampshire and hearing from a couple of birding friends telling us how great the views of the Masked Shrike are (not feeling gripped at all) we finally joined the assembled birders in the field and had some wonderful views of the 1st winter Masked Shrike ,
A really great find by dedicated 'patch watcher' Derek Smith and many thanks for putting the news out for us all to enjoy.
Cracking looking bird.
The Masked Shrike is a first record for Kent and only the 5th record for Britain, we watched this bird on & off for 1hr & 30 mins before we left to try our luck at Chambers Wall.
We reached Chambers Wall which was less then 10 mins away and walked along the concrete track towards the fisherman's car park hearing Lesser Redpoll & Redwing on route , we no sooner arrived at the car park when we saw the delightful Pallas's Warbler buzzing around with several Goldcrests.
That was one crazy Saturday but a fantastic day with great birds.
October 20th : Stiffkey Campsite
Eastern Rufous Bush Chat
I finally gave into temptation and teamed up with RR & PE and headed to Stiffkey in Norfolk , we decided to wait on news before we set of and sure enough positive news came through at approx 9.45am Monday morning.
An uneventful journey (apart from some nail biting & plenty of butterflies in the stomach) saw us arrive on site at 1.25pm, a quick dash around to the stubble field and after a short wait the superb EASTERN RUFOUS BUSH CHAT showed briefly in flight, the pale overall plumage was clear to see as was the striking rufous tail.
We had to wait a bit longer to get the view we all craved for and eventually the Rufous Bush Chat once again flew up and this time landed out in the open in a hawthorn bush and promptly started to pump it's glorious tail .
The best views came after another period of time without any sign of it, it flew up into a dead tree where i had superb scope views for over a minute.
It was good to see social distancing was generally being observed.
My photos are only record shots and are all Digi scoped , i just spent most of my time enjoying watching this bird, my 2nd lifer of the year and what a bird it is to !!!!
Eastern Rufous Bush Chat.