Sunday, 16 October 2016

Patch Mega

Having been confined to barracks for best part of a fortnight it was a pleasure to get out of the house this morning. I knew there wouldn't be any dragonflies around but all these easterly winds turning up rarities at the coast had me thinking there must be something at Far Pasture waiting to be discovered. 
I was disappointed, not even a goldcrest to be seen. A few more robins than usual but only a few wagtails on the pans and a couple of proper British accentors foraging the trees (none of this Siberian rubbish) and a steady stream of skylarks overhead.
Disappointed, I had a look in the hide where a lone photographer was seated. I'd only been in long enough to note the water level was down again and the reeds blocking the left-hand pond had been strimmed away, when I looked up to see a large, long-necked bird going over at quite a height. Heron? I thought, as it's not unknown for them to fly with outstretched neck occasionally, but as it banked around to circle the pond I got my bins on it and it revealed a long, curved beak :-O
Wow! Had to be an Ibis I thought, but with camera still packed away in my bag and fearing it was about to fly straight over I pointed it out to the 'bloke with a camera' and asked him to get a photo, which he did.
I fumbled for my own camera while keeping one eye on the sky and thankfully the bird circled again, dropping lower as it did so and indeed kept coming lower as I at last rattled off a few shots, unfortunately blurry ones on macro setting :-(
But as I struggled in the panic to get it right the bird continued to circle and drop lower, it definitely seemed like it was looking to land. Alas, the local jackdaws were having none of it. They chased it skywards again then handed over to a couple of gulls to escort it from the premises. Gutted.
But at least I got one half decent shot as it banked away.

My one decent shot of the Far Pasture Glossy Ibis

Soon it was a distant blot in the sky, and our boc views revealed no more than the silhouette of a dark bird in the gloom, though it had to be a Glossy Ibis. But as I don't twitch (in fact I don't birdwatch much at all nowadays) so have no reason to look up rarities unless I see something out of the norm,  and with no fieldguide between us, 'probable' it was until I could get home.

A pleasant half hour or so chatting with Ian (my new found acquaintance) followed, then off home to confirm our sighting. On the way home I found where all the wagtails had been hiding, with a dozen in a freshly-ploughed field off the Derwent Walk, mostly pieds, with one white, one grey and one with strange facial markings I haven't been able to pin down yet.

Dark markings in a stripe front back and under the eye, all the others had
pure white/yellowish face. Plumage looked too contrasting and neat
to be a juv. Answers on a postcard please . .

My first Redwings of the autumn also, as I waited to cross the A694 a flock of 60+ went low overhead from the local dene (followed by a single over the garden later).
But as Ian's photos show (better than mine) a Glossy Ibis goes on my Gateshead list, my second rarity find at Far Pasture, following the Red-rumped Swallow back in 2009.

Glossy Ibis
courtesy of Ian Hey

Unsure if it's a Gateshead first, but a patch 'Mega' all the same, wasn't what I was looking for when I went out this morning, but it'll do for me :-)     

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