Thursday, 9 June 2011

Hartlepool Headland - White-throated Robin

I had a bit of a lie in before my alarm woke me at 6.30 and after an agonising wait, I finally got the news I was hoping for – the White-throated Robin was still showing (well) at Hartlepool Headland!

It was 7.30 before I set off and given the traffic conditions, I was amazingly parked up just after 11.00 with news of the Robin still showing by the inner bowling green. The perimeter fence was pretty packed and eventually I found a spot from where I could see over the hedge (memo to self: either grow another 6 inches or take a box on twitches!)

The bird was on my list a few minutes later (I won’t put the record shot here!) Eventually it worked it’s way closer then disappeared into the rose bed, only to reappear (a camera shake moment if ever there was one!) a mere 15m away!!

Another angle....

The procees repeated itself and I got another close encounter 5 mins later and more awesome views!

It wasn’t to last though, the Robin had been entertaining everyone for the past 5 hours and called ‘time’ by flying over the nearby wall into the allotments where there is strictly no access! After waiting for 10 mins or so, it was clearly not dashing back and having bumped into local ringer Mike Gee (who assured me it would be back later) we popped round to his house for a (celebratory for me) cup of tea….

The last time I was here back in February, I had a fantastic day in the company of Mike who lives here at the Headland, just a stones throw from the bowing green . We had finished up for a cuppa at his house then as he waxed lyrical about the vagrants this area has the potential to (and does) produce.

Little did I suspect that I would be sat drinking a cuppa again three months later, after enjoying a brief but fantastic view of one of the most newsworthy and now ‘infamous’ megas of recent years, whilst chatting about it’s arrival and subsequent events….

It all started on Monday morning with the local lead ringer (Chris) noticing a very interesting bird (with orange flanks) near the Inner Bowling Green. The nets on the nearby allotments were set up and the bird was subsequently trapped here within 30 mins! The identity clearly not straight forward as the original assumption (Red-flanked Bluetail) was clearly in doubt. This bird appeared to be too large and did not have a blue tail , nevertheless female or immature RFB was still the more likely scenario? It was a great find and important bird whatever and the County recorder was soon on his way to have a look. The bird had to be released pretty soon and time was running out. The County recorder was in no doubt (a male would have been an easy ID) this was truly a MEGA – female White-throated Robin! News was put out and the bird released during the morning. The rest is history, including the infamous ‘storming of the Doctor’s wall!

Ah well, chat and cuppa over, I was itching to see more of the Robjn so bid farewell and returned to the Bowling Green, alas no sign. In fact, no sign was to remain the case for the duration and the bird didn’t reappear that day! (The other Bowling Green and Doctor’s garden all remained well covered)

The ladders came out again, enterprising birders and deals struck with the locals ensured I could amuse myself by watching the ‘goings on’......

Late in the afternoon, my curiosity got the better of me and I climbed one of the ladders to be greeted by this wonderful view!

I asked where the ladder had come from? ”found it on top of someone’s car” came the reply – S**t I’d been set up and slid down the ladder in a nanosecond before the local boys in blue came looking for the culprits!!

I knew (and hoped) they were joking too

A reappearance seemed less likely with the noise of a bowls match in progress!

In all, I stayed five hours on site, the last 4 ½ (mainly) in the company of folk who had arrived too late to see it!

The depleted gallery....

Dipping birds like this are is not easy to deal with and I expect most stayed until dark and the bird still didn’t show – it did the following morning. I can count myself 'lucky Jim' once more, another 15 mins later arrival and I could have been staying until dark!