Sunday, 13 November 2011

Eastern Black Redstart, Margate

A day of many colours in Kent: black and red are obvious from the post’s title, but then bright green, flaming orange and gleaming white followed on, all set against glorious blue skies!

I made an early start to arrive at Palm Bay just before 8am and quickly found a small group of birders who confirmed that the Eastern Black Redstart (phoenicuroides) was still present. The first Black Red I clapped eyes on was a regular bird, showing well in the early morning light:


But then ‘the boy’ appeared, and proceeded to show superbly to just a few metres – it favoured railings and the seaweed-covered beach just east of the Jetski Safari office, sometimes flicking up above our heads to rest on the cliffs. It was repeatedly aggressive towards any other Black Reds that came nearby, perhaps appearing a fraction larger in direct comparison? As the sunshine strengthened, the intensity of the rufous underparts seemed to grow… and the rate of motor drives firing certainly did!


After filling my boots (and memory card) with the Redstart, I moved just down the road to check some local sites for migrants. First stop was Northdown Park, where I didn’t find much other than numerous Ring-necked Parakeets. They’re hard to resist, though – very smart!


And just down the road, I tried out King George VI Memorial Park on the clifftop at Ramsgate (brought to many birders’ attention when Andy Lawson and Rich Bonser searched the site and found a Bluetail on a rainy day a few autumns ago). The ivy-covered trees and holm oaks along the clifftop path held at least three Firecrests – for the second time recently, I spent more time than I intended trying to get photos, without really getting the killer shot I wanted. They’re just too quick!


After an hour or so checking the scrub around the old hoverport at Pegwell Bay, I headed south to try for some photos at Dungeness. My main target was the very long-staying Glaucous Gull – after a bit of research this evening, I reckon tomorrow will the first anniversary of its arrival at the site! I’ve not got a good track record with this bird, having missed it numerous times while looking for other things, but this time it was only too easy, soaring around over the fishing boats looking out for a free meal.


The remainder of the daylight was spent checking the ARC pit, noting a redhead Smew and a Long-tailed Duck, plus good numbers of Golden Plover.

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