Thursday, 9 June 2011

White Throated Robin, Hartlepool, Durham 9th June 2011

I decided last night after reading yesterdays account on BirdForum that the White Throated Robin was favouring the nearby bowling green, so today I decided to pay another visit to this superb little migrant, in order to try an obtain some decent images.
I set off at 0315am and was on site for 0535am. There was approximately 30 people surrounding the bowling green and the WT Robin could be seen straight away.
The sun was the biggest problem as we were facing into the light with the bird in between . Add to that, shadows galore.
It was good to catch up with Mike Lawrence, Simon Stirrup and John Carter who were, like me after getting a good image of this very rare vagrant.
The bird kept very loyal to the hedged area at the rear of the bowling green, and when it moved from there, it gave everyone the run around by hopping into the rose bed. Every time it was near, the light played havoc so a few of us moved to view from a different angle.
The bird disappeared just as I was talking to Mike Lawrence, and we watched it fly east towards the headland. 
Everyone set off looking for the bird, and it was eventually found on the headland, behind the second bowling green, sifting through the leaf litter behind the large wooden boarded fence. The sound of shutters going off amazed me, as there were really only 'photographers' there. Eventually news had got back to the bowling green, and birders gradually arrived to see this superb little bird. Great to catch up with Kev Hale, who'd travelled through the night from Plymouth, such was the pull of this bird.
The bird would hop through the wooden slats of the fencing, and then back onto the headlands grassed area.
The bird then flew back in the direction of the bowling on Olive Street, and carried on feeding as it had done earlier on.
Birders came and went, then the bird flew off again, and again was refound on the headland.
Once again it fed for a while before flying back to its regular patch, just as it had done earlier.
By dinnertime though the bird did totally the opposite. Whilst feeding in the bowling green area amongst the poppies and the roses, it flew up and headed over the garden wall as if to reach the doctors garden. Birders were still turning up, and there is nothing worse than hearing the words, 'ya just missed it mate', but that's how it was. I waited around til 1330 hours and decided that it wasn't going to get any better than the morning I'd had.
With that, I returned to my car,  and started the same journey home I had taken 48 hours previous, albeit this time I'd managed to get some images.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

White Throated Robin, Hartlepool, Durham 7th June 2011

Ive just got home from a tiring day. I finished me night shift at 0700hrs and drove straight up to Hartlepool to see the cracking White Throated Robin. I didn't expect to see the bird as it had been found yesterday in a mist net, then been ringed, fed all day, and whilst driving north this morning I felt that the clear night would move the bird on.
I got up yesterday at 1400hrs having been in the middle of a set of four night shifts, to a phone full of texts, and voicemail messages from people wondering where I was. Mike Watson, Ian Corbett, Mike and Jane Malpass had all been good enough to think of me whilst I snored the morning away.
Talk about amazed when I read the text of what bird had been found, a White Throated Thrush was in Hartlepool which certainly wasn't a million miles away.
So with that, I went to work last night at 1900hrs, accompanied with all me birding gear. Bins, camera, tripod, waterproofs etc willing the hours away so i could drive north this morning.
At 0645 hrs I had a missed call from Mike Watson.  I rung him back asking him whether he knew whether the bird was still there.
He quickly asked,
'Are you on ya way?'
'I didnt know it was still, there, and I finish in 15 minutes'
'Its been on BirdForum that its still there'
'Superb, im on me way'
As soon as it was 0700am, I was on me way up the M6 north. It only took me 2 hours to get to the site which was a doctors garden near the headland. I had seen the images of yesterdays twitch which looked manic, with twitchers stood on a van roof, ladders, even peoples heads to get a vantage point over the large perimeter wall that surrounded the garden.
No such antics today. When I arrived, around 20 - 30 birders were stood at the garage door waiting to be asked into the garden where the bird still was.
The doctor was asked by a local birder, (I presumed the actual ringer of the WT Robin) and access was gained.  Some familiar faces had made the journey, Rob Pocklington from Cumbria, Lee Fuller had made the long journey from Hampshire and John Dempsey had travelled from Merseyside.
Immediately the bird showed in the far corner of the garden, frequenting the compost heap and the surrounding wall that divided the gardens.
It was too far away to photograph, but  a record image of this superb rarity would suffice as at least Id seen it, not worth keeping or publishing though.
The bird seemed settled in its area and so I made my exit after a few hours watching it. Superb little bird.