Friday, 1 June 2012

Roller and Icterine Warbler - 1st June 2012

I joined Chris Jones and Robin Sandham on their drive across to East Yorkshire to twitch the stunning adult Roller at Aldbrough. Despite some traffic issues, we got there mid-PM with few problems.

Arriving on site, we were greeted to fantastic views of the bird sat on its favoured white post where it usually came back to after short burst of rolling display and feeding. A truly fantastic bird and one I have wanted to see in Britain for ages.
With my trips to Spain, France, Portugal and Italy over the past 10 years, I have seen lots of Roller abroad, but these are usually in late August when they aren't in their most impressive plumage and in the bright sandy conditions of the Med, they don't look as blue as the bird we watched today. It was probably the prettiest bird I have seen in Britain with fantastic sky blue tones and bright purple/navy on the underwing, with black on the primaries and secondaries and a lovely brown mantle. A real treat and a joy to watch!

After soaking in this fantastic bird, we headed north to Flamborough (my first trip here) to the Old Fall steps where we joined fellow North-West birder Mark Payne to look at my first ever Icterine Warbler. I have Mark to thank for this bird, as we would never have looked in this hedgerow if he wasn't present already!
It proved a very tricky bird to see well, so I am very happy with the photos I got, but the 'Hippo' structure was obvious with the long pointy bill, peaked crown and rather slugish feeding habits in the centre of the Hawthorn bush. Whilst ever it was seen perched, the pale wing panel was really evident which is one of the keen features of ID of this species to separate it from Melodious. In addition to educational views, we were also treated to a couple of bursts of song which were just fantastic!

It's not ever day you get to tick off two fantastic species that have been targets for a long time. Thanks to Chris for doing the driving, to Chris and Rob for making it a fantastic day and to Mark for helping us pin down the Iccy!

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