|Northern Wheatear, Muswell Hill, 01/09/2019|
|Spotted Flycatcher, Muswell Hill 01/09/2019|
|Sparrowhawk, Muswell Hill, 08/09/2019|
I had a day to spare on Wednesday so we decided to give it another go but this time rose early and drove down the A34 to make it to Warsash by just after 7. Bluethroats are fabulous little birds, superficially resembling the Robin but having a bright blue throat, bordered with a red band, from which it gets its name. I'm a blue boy at heart so love any birds that have blue in their name or plumage, they're aren't that many either, so a Bluethroat always gets me going! I've seen a few before but just missed out on a fall of them on the east coast in May when several were seen in Northumberland up until the day before we got there for a weeks holiday so one was still required for the Old Caley year list!
Our previous sightings of Bluethroats include a fine singing male at Welney in June 2010 (took us 5 hours of patient waiting before that showed) which, presumably the same returning bird, we also saw the following year and a neat first winter male in Lincolnshire in February 2017. But we hadn't seen one since so were keen to see this one!
|male white-spotted Bluethroat, Welney, June 2010|
|1st winter male Bluethroat, Willow Tree Fen, Lincs, 18/02/2017|
We arrived at the area that the Bluethroat was frequenting by 07:30 and were surprised to see no other birders present although a few would join us throughout the morning. Exposed to the elements out on the edge of the Solent it was rather chilly and there was promise of rain in the air despite a favourable forecast. The wind was buffeting the reeds lining the scrape and I didn't think it likely that any small birds would be choosing to perch on those today. I checked all of the spots where the Bluethroat had been photographed over the past few days, the small hawthorn bush where it had originally been found, the willow tree close to the bench where it had posed beautifully on both Monday and Tuesday and even the stick right out in the open on one of the islands where incredibly the Bluethroat had perched on Monday. There was no sign of it this morning. Over the next two hours I checked all of the likely spots over and over again but only saw Willow Warblers and Common Whitethroats. On Sunday we had seen one of our favourites, a female Dartford Warbler, in the gorse but there would be little chance of seeing one of those in the windy conditions since they would definitely be lying low. There was plenty of activity on the scrape with maybe 50 or more Black-tailed Godwits either feeding or roosting and a dozen Little Egrets fishing voraciously alongside a few Cormorants in the shallow water. A lone Common Sandpiper pottered around the islands and a pair of Dunlin flew out and away screeching as they went. Starlings fed on Blackberries in between whirling around overhead.
|Little Egrets & Black-tailed Godwits|
|The Willow minus a Bluethroat|
Despite trying very hard for the next hour and a half we had no further sightings of the Bluethroat so left at midday. I was annoyed that I never got a really good view when I had the chance and was disappointed that I'd failed to get even a blurry photo but at least we'd seen it and we'd get another chance at another soon somewhere else, the autumn migration period was just hotting up after all.
A female Sparrowhawk, harried by a pair of Magpies, briefly raised the spirits as it hunted along the ditch, hope it didn't nobble the Bluethroat, and then tore into the Black-tailed Godwit flock scattering them in every direction.
|Sparrowhawk & Black-tailed Godwits|