Friday 21 February 2014

3rd jp tick of the year: Mistle Thrush

Three Japan ticks in the space of two weeks! February weeks at that, hardly the month I'd expect much action. In the whole of 2010, my worst year in listing terms, I only managed two Japan ticks (Pied Wheatear and Ferruginous Flycatcher), so 2014 is looking good so far.

I was first on site at the crack of dawn yesterday morning and while three more people arrived and were grouped discussing strategy or whatever, I heard the bird call from the trees behind us. It called once more then flew out onto the wires directly above the knot of would-be Thrush spotters. I signalled to them causing confusion as they realised they couldn't point their cameras directly upwards.

It soon dropped onto the edge of the field right in front of us and bang went my hand-held pea-shooter advantage as the bazookas blazed away. Lucky for me it was so close. When I left at 9am there were about 10 people present but the bird had moved off across the fields. It had been on show the whole time, flown a few times too, but its high-speed hop allowed it to cover a large area surprisingly quickly. Despite that, it never again came as close as it had been at first. Great bird!

Late afternoon, on the way home, I stopped off to look for the Solitary Snipe I missed last weekend but fared no better I'm afraid. I've got to say, shivering by the river with the other dippers temporarily took the gloss off a great morning. But driving back the involuntary smile, the kind that broadens into an inane grin, returned. And it hasn't left; what a great bird!

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