On Sunday 4/12/16 with the help of social media a strange thrush in Derbyshire was identified as a first winter female Dusky Thrush. The usual suspects had seen the Kent bird so played it cool. It showed well on Monday and although I consider going on my own I contacted JH who agreed to go the next day.
6/12/16 On Tuesday set off mid morning. Was a bit disconcerted when on reaching the end of the M18 instead of continuing on the M1 the SatNav took us into Sheffield. Total nightmare with heavy traffic and the regular ‘recalculating’ followed by ‘turn right then immediately left’. Eventually we got to the suburbs followed by open country and not much later ordered to “turn left onto Church Lane” Beeley. Several lost birders wandering about and we were informed that the thrush hadn’t been seen for two hours. Parked and headed to Dukes Barn where it had spent much of yesterday. After about an hour there was a sudden wave of birders leaving prompted by a call to someone’s phone. Couldn’t see JH and although I didn’t want to leave him behind I knew he was close and would join the exodus so set off and even did a bit of running so actually ended up one the first new birders in the playing field where I headed for the nearest available scope and got a good enough view to be happy I had seen a Dusky Thrush [‘a tickable view’] then went for my camera but it wasn’t where it appeared to be and on asking for another look found it had dropped out of view. About this time JH arrived [he doesn’t do running]. When it hadn’t reappeared for a while I thought it was safe to go back to the car for my scope. Getting there found I could view the tree tops I’d seen the thrush as well as some of the orchard at Duke Barn. Getting back to JH suggested we both headed back to there. Annoyingly on getting there discovered it been seen briefly close by. There was then another big gap before, close to dusk, it was seen again behind Duke Barn. However it was hopeless as although it might have been present as we arrived the light, not helped by low cloud, was too poor and it was soon lost to view. Called it a day and this time using the fastest route setting we got back much quicker on a route that skirted Chesterfield.
As a post script the next time I got the bike out, on Friday morning, the throttle cable broke while warming up so would have been knackered if I’d had gone under my own steam.
14/12/16 I promised to go back with JH so went again the following week on Wednesday. Again on fast setting, although the SatNav seemed to take us through the centre of Chesterfield this time. Arrived earlier but again it hadn’t been seen for two hours. Ended up parking close to a group viewing an orchard over a dry stone wall. There were plenty of Blackbirds with smaller numbers of other thrushes so this looked as good a place as Duke Barn to watch. There was one false alarm that got us viewing Duke Barn for a while but seemed very quiet so went back to the orchard where the birds were at least in photographic range.
One of many Blackbirds at Beeley. Some of apparent Continental appearance.
As last week had a Nuthatch, although we had seen one at Hornsea Mere early in the year it’s a very hard bird to see in East Yorkshire. As the light faded gave up just hoping it wouldn’t be seen in the last light when it was too late to get back.
The rest of the week, although I’ve only been out with the dog, hasn’t been too bad. On Wednesday, while waiting to go to Derbyshire had had a garden tick in the form of a Peregrine over. On Thursday had a Kingfisher by the drain behind Station Road but flew off over gardens as I was getting the camera ready. Nearby I had a Grey Wagtail on rough field off Dunswell Road. Finally on Friday had a male Blackcap in the back garden.
The Dusky Thrush wasn’t seen on Thursday and Friday. I did think the thrushes were down on Wednesday so maybe it had moved on. Alternatively, with several birds of prey seen on both visits, maybe it’s luck had run out. However reappeared on Saturday morning so maybe this isn’t the last time I write about it?