Thursday, 11 September 2014

Barred Warbler and garden Wrynecks

Greatstone - 0900hrs - mild, cloudy, ne 2 - Checked the wood out at the bottom of Dunes Road but all I could locate was a mixed passerine flock with 15 Long-tailed Tits, Blackcap and Chiffchaff. The sewage works had a large flock of hirundines feeding overhead and a Grey Wagtail went over.
Dungeness - News of a Barred Warbler at the southern end of the Trapping Area came through and by the time I arrived it had moved onto a scrub-clad bank on the edge of the Desert. We had several brief views of the bird in the open, but most of the time it was skulking amongst brambles. A Whinchat and Stonechat was also seen.
An afternoon seawatch from the fishing boats with PB yielded at least 3 close Arctic Skuas, one a cracking light phase adult and a steady trickle of Sandwich and Common Terns feeding just offshore. A Brent Goose flew by and was my first of the autumn and further out a few Gannets and a Kittiwake were noted.
Garden Wrynecks
During my time as county bird recorder (in deepest land-locked Bedfordshire) I could pretty much guarantee being contacted every autumn by someone describing the sighting of an, "odd brown, black and grey little bird hopping around on the garden path feeding on ants". I remember one concerned caller saying after said bird had collided into her patio window, "when I picked it up it contorted its neck around".
Unfortunately, the majority of garden Wryneck records were reported via the jaws of that sweet little mammal the domestic cat. Now, let`s get one thing straight dear reader I`m not about to go on a rant about how many millions of songbirds the UKs cats kill each year, as occasionally Mrs PT reads this waffle, and they`re only doing what nature intended, and she loves her Jim as much as I love my Barney, oh no, not me, never, I`ve even forgiven Jim for delivering a Firecrest and Reed Warbler on the kitchen mat one autumn, honest I have...
Anyhow, that`s enough of that, as I was saying, autumn Wryneck sightings in gardens, so yesterday I received a phone call from a gentleman in Cheriton telling a familiar tale of his family cat catching an unusual bird that turned out to be our much loved migrant. However, this story has a happy ending as the woodpecker was retrieved from the cats clutches, caged overnight and successfully released the following day none the worse for its experience.
But whenever I hear one of these garden Wryneck tales I do wonder just how many more there must be out there that go undetected...

                                Wryneck, Cheriton (by Ron Laker)

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