Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Twitching a male Desert Wonder

After our visit to Ham Wall Jackie and I stayed over in Glastonbury and woke next morning to the promise of a bright sunny day.  A quick check of the Sat nav found that Thurlestone in Devon was about two hours away so, after a very quick stop at Tesco to pick something up for breakfast, we headed south.

Amazingly the Sat nav was dead right and two hours later we were parking in the car park for Leas Foot beach which lies just beyond the golf course.  We passed a birder leaving and he said it was still there on the rocks at the far end of the beach. Five minutes later we were stood on the beach and watching our target flitting around the rocks feeding.  I managed to take a few shots though it was fairly distant not wanting to disturb it, after all seeing it for us is the main thing.  A photograph is an extra bonus if I can get one as you don't want to flush it off for any following birders that might be coming to see it.

It was amazing how this bird had found like coloured habitat that when it was motionless it just blended in with the surrounding rock and sand, perfect camouflage.  I even managed a distant classic wheatear shot of it atop the coastal path fence post.  It took a little flight up the beach which was perhaps a little closer to where we were standing, it didn't seem to bothered about us and I managed a couple more shots.
Cropped from above photograph © Nick Hull
Then unbelievingly it flew straight at us, it had obviously seen something in the sand right in front of us and went for it landing just three metres away. It very quickly became obvious it had seen a Sand Hopper the camera seemed to go into overdrive at this point.
Desert Wheatear with Sandhopper © Nick Hull
Pleased with our views and pretty sure that I had at least one or two good shots I went off down the end of the beach as a Black Redstart had appeared.  Jackie went and sat in the sun on some rocks near the access to the beach. Managed a couple of shots of the redstart and headed to join Jackie.
Male Black Redstart © Nick Hull
As I approached Jackie she indicated to me not to approach too fast and pointed to her left and there right next to her was the wheatear.  I joined her at her rocky seat and couldn't not take a few closeup shots of this stunning bird.
Desert Wheatear Leasfoot Beach Devon © Nick Hull

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