Friday, 1 November 2013

Lifting of the Catharus Curse

The Catharus Curse comes in the form of 3 dipped veeries and 2 failed plane charters for hermit thrushes. These delightful little birds are exciting TransAtlantic vagrants but they can be highly elusive and have a penchant for turning up on far flung islands, making them hard to connect with.

The hermit thrush found at Porthgwarra on 29th October should prove to be the 9th record for Britain but it's the 1st to be found on the mainland. Cue major twitch! At this time there were already Yanks turning up all over Britain and Ireland, the great storm having pulled in ruby-crowned kinglet, mourning dove, 2 American robins and 2 myrtles while the long-staying Cape may continued its presence on Shetland luring intrepid listers further north than they would have preferred.

I couldn't quite make it on the first day but was there on the 2nd after an overnight drive to this traditional birding spot in the south-west. It took a while for it to be found by which time most of us were beginning to think it had gone. But a scramble round the corner and hopes were rekindled. It had shown to some lucky observers for a minute or two but had disappeared! We waited for perhaps another half hour until Josh J noticed it just feet away from him. He tried to prevent a stampede but as perhaps 200 birders all moved into position, not surprisingly it did a runner.

A game of cat and mouse ensued over the next few hours with the crowd waiting patiently for views. The bird obliged on several occasions and most observers left satisfied. We tried for a nearby white-rumped sandpiper but the strong wind and high levels of disturbance were instrumental in our failure. So too perhaps the fact that we were in the wrong place (next day it was further along the coast). But who cares? Hermit thrush is in the bag and I didn't even need a bank loan to get it.

Yanks reign - Last 3 pages are making my notebook look like the Sibley Guide!

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