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Thursday, 23 February 2017

Me Too !! - on 20th February, 2017

When I first started birdwatching, and thumbed my way through my first bird guide, one bird that I was really taken with was the male Bluethroat - it was, in my opinion, the most beautiful of the European thrushes. I really had a hankering to see one, to the extent that I contemplated a visit to a business associate in Douai, France, who regularly had them just over the road from his home. This visit never happened, and I resigned myself to the occasional look at the bird in the Collins Bird Guide.

On 10th February, a first winter male Bluethroat was reported at Willow Tree Fen, Lincolnshire. I was a bit incapacitated at the time and didn't even check where Willow Tree Fen was, assuming it was somewhere near the coast, and a bit far away from me. 

When it was still reported as being there on 19th February, I was tempted to investigate where Willow Tree Fen was, and found that it was only about a 70 mile (110 km) road journey from my home. I'm not usually a twitcher, but this bird had a corner in my heart, and as the weather forecast for the following day was quite reasonable, I made up my mind to go.

So, sorry if this is just another Bluethroat blog. If you've seen too many Bluethroat images lately, now's the time to switch off.

I set off at around 09h30 as I had an arrangement to call in at my favourite cider maker's  place, but this only meant a total diversion of around 20 miles (30 km) and this resulted in me arriving at the entrance to Willow Tree Fen a couple of minutes before mid-day. There were quite a few cars around when I arrived, and I could see the line of observers straddling the track from the road side.

As I set off on the track, a vehicle and trailer came in the opposite direction. The farmer was moving his sheep. Fortunately, although this happened three times each way whilst I was on site, it didn't seem to result in any significant problems.

I soon joined the line-up, which consisted of just 18 people who were impressively ordered and quiet. Here's one taken as I approached.

the Bluethroat line-up - Willow Tree Fen
I was soon filled in as to what was happening and stood patiently waiting. At 12h41 the bird emerged from the track-side reeds. WOW!!! Here's an image from that first appearance.

Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica) (first winter male) - Willow Tree Fen, Lincolnshire
I fired off many frames during that first showing, which lasted around two minutes, but I felt that I could probably do better, so hung around. A gap in the line appeared in a more favourable position - so I filled it.

I only had to wait until 13h15 for the bird to appear again. The light levels had dropped somewhat in the interim, but I subsequently found that staying was the right decision as, in choosing which images to post on this blog, all but that first one were from the second session, which also lasted around two minutes.





Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica) (first winter male) - Willow Tree Fen, Lincolnshire
This next image shows just how unobtrusive the bird appears from the rear. I think that most people would be hard-pressed to even suggest what the bird might be from this angle!

Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica) (first winter male) - Willow Tree Fen, Lincolnshire
To my mind, the bird looked as if it was short of a few tail feathers. In this next image you can see some of the rusty-red feathering at the base of the tail.

Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica) (first winter male) - Willow Tree Fen, Lincolnshire
And here's a final image.

Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica) (first winter male) - Willow Tree Fen, Lincolnshire
Did the bird live up to my expectations? No, it exceeded them by miles!! I think that this state of plumage is even more attractive than the plumage of a mature male of the species. I suspect that this will turn out to be my 'Bird of The Year'.

Thank you for dropping by. Maybe next time it WILL be those garden birds!

24 comments:

  1. Congratulations The bluethroat (Luscinia svecica) seeing! Greetings

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    1. Thank you, Anne. It was a very special day for me.

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  2. Wowee, the Bluethroat, didn't you shot well. I never got so on film, bravo Richard.

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    1. Thank you, Bob. If this bird hangs around, you could easily get to it. I'd be delighted to meet up with you and take you there.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  3. I can imagine how you felt when this bird appeared out of the reeds for the first time for you....WOW!

    A nice uncluttered commentary - enjoyable reading - on this brilliant little gem at Willow Tree Fen Richard. As I'm not the average full frame bird pictures enthusiast, your first image is by far my favourite and is excellent.

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    1. It really was a very exciting experience, Pete.

      I take on board your comment about full-frame bird images. It's a trap that I know I fall into regularly. However, in this instance I think that full-frame is justified as being my first (and almost certainly 'only') encounter with this species, I wanted to capture as much detail of the bird as possible. In this instance, the surrounds of the bird were not that interesting - straight-edged gravel path, narrow strip of grass, straight-edged line of reeds - nothing natural-looking at all!

      Best wishes - - Richard

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  4. Fabulous pictures of this very pretty bird Richard. I love how sharp and detailed your photos are.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Denise.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  5. Hi Richard and this is a bird with the wow factor, a real stunner,well hunted down. See you in the morning. John

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    1. It certainly was a little beauty, John. Fingers crossed for some good photo opportunities tomorrow. Let's hope we don't find any disasters after the Doris Day gales.

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  6. Well done you :-) Congratulations for getting your Bluethroat! Will this bird migrate back south or stay?

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    1. I don't know the answer to that question, Linda. These birds usually put in their relatively rare appearances in the summer. It would be rather special if this one decided to stay with us. At the moment it seems to be feeding mainly on mealworms that people are putting out for it, which is great for the birdwatchers, but possibly not in the bird's long-term best interest, particularly if the free meals dry up when people get less interested in the bird. Time will tell!

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  7. Great species, Richard. I managed to see this species with Noushka at Le Teich. It was certainly worth the trip for both of us. I will be leaving for home tomorrow.

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    1. Thank you for dropping by whilst you are away, David - much appreciated. I wish you all the best for your journey home.

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  8. Hahahaha!!!!
    Oh my, Richard, what an enjoyable post!
    The line up to watch and photograph the Blue-throat is funny!
    But yes do I understand the excitement over the species, here too it is a must!
    Your photos are gorgeous, congratulations to have it in your list now!
    Keep well and enjoy your we :)

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    1. Bird watching in UK is a very popular hobby, Noushka, and that line-up is very small compared to some that occur when a rare bird is found. Some birds attract several hundred bird watchers in just one day, and organised queues, sometimes a few hundred metres long, have to be arranged to give everyone a chance to see the bird. Sometimes the watching time is also controlled so that the next people in the queue can get to it. People will travel great distances at great expense, sometimes flying from one end of the country to the other, just to see a rare bird. Take a look at this:- http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/06/hundreds-birdwatchers-descend-village-ultra-rare-sighting-dusky/.

      With my very best wishes - - - Richard

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    2. Hahaha!!
      My goodness! indeed, surprising and awesome!
      THanks for the link.
      Take care, I hope your toothache is over....

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    3. Thanks, Noushka. The jaw is almost back to normal now - apart from the gap!

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  9. I too thumb my way through Collins and judge which is the best looking Thrush etc lol. I'm personally never going to get tired of seeing Bluethroat images. It is a stunning bird. My only hope is it stays put into spring as they look even more incredible.

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    1. I think I prefer the current plumage to the one that it'll be wearing later in the year, Doug. I reckon that the red at the throat with diffused transition adds a lot to its appearance, which solid blue with a hard-edged red spot would not. Would be great to see it in that plumage too though - not that I'm greedy!

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  10. Hi Richard,
    What a great photo of the blue throat. In the Netherlands, we see the blue throat until early May. You could make beautiful photos with brilliant and very clear detail. You could also come across close or you have a long lens :-) My compliments.

    Warm greetings from me,
    Helma

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    1. Thank you, Helma. The bird did come quite close, but I also had the help of a 500mm lens.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  11. Nice bird - I saw some in India. I went on an actual twitch this weekend (which is not normal!) and got Buff-Breasted Sandpiper!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. I hadn't realised that the range of this species spread as far as India, Stewart. Congratulations on the BBS!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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