Saturday 18 November 2023

Thirty Years Ago - October, November & December 1993

3rd October:

An afternoon dash to Fagbury Cliff once again for an Arctic Warbler that did not show but there was fair recompense with lots of other Warblers, two Red-backed Shrikes, Icterine Warbler and a smart Bluethroat. [Eds: my notes mention a ‘funny bird’ with the ‘Brown Fly?’ afterwards… I honestly have no recollection of this!]

23rd October: 

A Woodcock flew up from the planted borders of Chadwell Heath Tesco while I was at the traffic lights.

[Eds: not sure what happened to October!]

5th November:

After an agonising week of waiting I at last got the chance to head down to Winspit in Dorset for the near mythical Red-flanked Bluetail. [Eds: how times change]. Fortunately it was still present and hopped around in front of Roy and I in the autumn undergrowth in this delightfully secluded valley.

Red-flanked Bluetail

The sun was out and it was pleasantly warm and I never thought I would see a Bluetail I the UK.  There were lots of Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Goldcrests and a strange Acro that was later identified as a Marsh Warbler. Ravens, Buzzards and Peregrine were all seen overhead and a few Butterflies were still on the wing.

7th November: 

Back to Fagbury with Peter G where we found a flock of ten Blackcaps (and saw 15), a tardy Garden Warbler, ten Chiffchaffs, Goldcrests and two Firecrests before heading to Landguard where superb views were had a delightful Pallas’s Warbler.

12th-16th November:

Uni fieldtrip to the Cheviots. It was a great few days as we investigated glacial landforms in the rolling landscape.  Peregrines, Buzzards and Ravens were encountered along with Dippers and Red Grouse but the real surprise was an immature Golden Eagle cruising over the top of Cheviot itself.  My first Golden Eagle away from the Lakes.

21st November:

A single Long-eared Owl had returned to Dagenham Chase for the winter. Always a joy to see.

1st-8th December:

Uni fieldtrip to Tunisia.  [Eds: A truly amazing week and my first visit to Africa so there were many new birds with Maghreb – was Mourning -, Black, White-crowned Black and Red-rumped Wheatears, Tristam’s Warbler, Laughing Doves, House Buntings, Temminck’s Horned, Desert and Hoopoe Larks, Moussier’s Redstarts and Brown-necked Raven off the top of my head. 

Blue Rock Thrush

Temminck’s Horned Lark

House Bunting

The scenery was stunning and I was good enough and interested enough in my studies out there to get away with always having my bins around my neck and unafraid to use them!

Hoopoe Lark

White-crowned Black Wheatear & Blue Rock Thrush

The paintings are some of a series of 12 that I did in just one evening and night when the muse struck just into the new year - they were quick and impulsive. I remember waking up and seeing them stuck up around my room and wondering how that happened.    I am not sure where the missing ones are but will add them if I find them. May the Muse grant me another chance again soon]

El Jem

Spanish Sparrow

Tristam’s Warbler

15th December:

A female Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in my Ilford garden was the first for a few years.

27th December:

Three male Blackcaps arrived for the winter in the garden and there was still just one Long-eared Owl over Dagenham Chase.

31st December:

An adult Yellow-legged Gull at the Chase was a good end to the year.

[Eds: A yo-yo birding year and my notes say ‘Phew – I can start again afresh for 1994’.]

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