Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Rookie Error

photos @jarpartridge

After hearing that ‘the’ Firecrest has been seen in the Waterworks lately I made the effort to get in there before work, Jamie had had the same idea and so we arranged to meet up.

As I entered the site a single Corvid flew South-south-west, something about it said look at me, I don’t know what it is but you can sometimes just tell the difference between local Crows and those just passing through, anyhoo I gave it a quick look. It had the facial expression of a Rook but was dark-faced and didn’t look especially full-tailed, it carried on its sweet way and so did I.

Joining up with Jamie we checked the boardwalk area but drew a blank. Moving onto the hide we noted a handful of Reed Buntings, a couple of Cetti’s Warblers and even saw two Water Rails.

Our talk turned to what might fly over in such fine weather, we mentioned the possibility of Rook, I mentioned my bird from earlier in the morning, Jamie said he had seen that too just before I arrived but came to the same conclusion as I that it couldn’t be a Rook.

Needing to get into work I suggested another quick look along the boardwalk before I had to go. There was not a lot of activity but towards the end a singing Crest could be heard in the distance, unfortunately just at that very moment the world’s noisiest Great Spotted Woodpecker flew in and scared everything off, this Firecrest does not want to give itself up without a fight!

I had to go but Jamie decided to hang on for a bit, my heart sank, Jamie is not safe to leave on the patch on his own. He seems to have taken on Pete L’s mantle of a year or so back and insists on finding stuff, this is great when you’re with him but infuriating when you have to go work! I knew that I would be reading some gripping tweet on the bus but didn’t really have any option – work is the curse of the birding classes.

I got no more than 200m when I looked up to see two Corvids flying South-south-west, they had the facial expression of Rooks and the pale face of Rooks, they even had the full tail of Rooks. They were Rooks! I turned and shouted to Jamie but he had seen them and already was reaching for his camera.

Although I have seen Rook now three years on the trot on the patch this belies the fact that they are seriously scarce here and have only been recorded in 4 of the last 7 years. Our mind went back to the first bird we had seen and after a quick bit of googling we established that Rooks do not acquire their pale face until their second calendar year, so it probably was a Rook, maybe they are common after all and we are just missing them…maybe not though.

Naturally Jamie went on to have a bird singing like a Siberian Chiffchaff after I left him but I suspect that is a story for another day…


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