Dashed out for an extended lunch today for a quick twitch up to Horsey Gap to see the 1st-winter male Pied Wheatear sat on the pillbox just south of the NT car park. The bird called quite often, a soft "chit", similar to a Stonechat, but without the hard 'tacking' property. It often flew in the air and hovered a-la Eurasian Skylark and this enabled viewers to see the sooty underwing and characteristic tail pattern.
The bird was really co-operative and sat on the pillbox at close range for extended periods. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the Paddyfield Warbler at Snettisham. After sitting on news of it for 6 hour, word finally got out but the bird had gone. Thanks guys - not!
After seeing London's Brown Shrike I headed off to Didcot and spent the rest of the day searching for the Azorean Yellow-legged Gull that Ian Lewington found last week at the dump between Didcot and Appleford. After going back and forward between the fields and the dump pool for 5 hours, I finally decided enough was enough and decided to give the fields one last look, but before I could start sifting through all the gulls a Perigrine attacked them and all the gulls from all the fields flew up and headed to the dump, so I decided to give the pool one last look and sure enough, there it was swimming around with the LBBG's. Azorean Gull is a real beast as can be seen from the photos below.
OK, I know most* people will say that Staines is in Surrey, or Middlesex or somewhere like that, but as far as I'm concerned, if it's inside the M25 - it's in London.
After not having time to go to Flanelborough last autumn and not bothering with Marcus Lawson's 'Red-backed Shrike' on Bryher those many moons ago, it was great to finally catch up with Brown Shrike. I've only seen adults in Asia, so it was nice to see a first-winter so well.
There are a number of features which identifies the bird as Brown. The black mask with flaring white supercillium, the very short primary projection, the round head and round body, giving it a rather rotund appearance, the quite long, but more importantly, thin tail with the outer-tail feathers being about 2/3 the length of the longest tail feathers, the plain looking tertials and the fairly unmarked flanks.