2017 New Year Catch Up 1. Dusky Thrush Remains.

Been a bit lax in bringing up to date the blog. To be honest its been a bit of a numbing start to the year. We were due to move house and it fell through leaving us rather devastated.

Still there has been a little bit of birding done. This started with a trip just up the road on the afternoon of the 5th of January in order to to catch up with the Derbyshire celebrity  female Dusky Thrush at Beeley Village. I arrived in the early afternoon to find around 10 birders on the bird, which is now frequenting the fields just out of the village along Pig Lane having abandoned her orchard to a Fieldfare that now haunts the apple trees, seeing off any interlopers bent on sharing its feast. It was a glorious afternoon, cold and sunny with frost still clinging hard on the shady, sheltered ground, but amazingly there was heat haze between us and the bird when I attempted to film her. She was showing distantly in the fields footling around with a small group of Redwings, tossing leaves around searching for food. The ground was hard with crisp frost, except, of course, for the bit I found when my foot went straight through the frozen surface and into liquid mud up to my ankle!

The bird played a bit of hide and seek around the leafless hedgerows before settling just where I had been told to look. She was feeding below a tall old Ash Tree along a hedge line running up the valley side, picking over the ground under the hedge among some fallen branches, with the occasional foray out a short way into the grassy field. She would sometimes fly up into the hedge and remain hidden for a few minutes before dropping down back into the grass. The ground under the hedge was in full sun and I’m guessing it had thawed and there were invertebrates to be found there. As the afternoon wore on I found myself the last birder watching the bird and had a very enjoyable, solitary hour or so watching her feeding at a fair range up the field but in the lovely evening sun.

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The bird seems to have replaced the missing feathers on the upper rump area that were conspicuous by their absence in the early December views, and which had previously formed a white line at the top of the rufousy rump. To my eyes the rufous wings, rump and tail areas seem to have dulled a bit. However I feel the face is sharpening up and becoming plainer and paler on the sub loral areas framing the dark rear ear covert patch. Today the pale throat could be seen to be much more buffy toned than the whiter belly below the breast band of streaking.

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Around me as I stood quietly I could hear the calls of Pied Wagtails as they searched the fields for food and a single Sparrowhawk silently passed close low and fast, jinking around me before perching in a close tree and eying me carefully for a few seconds before looping on again to a further tree and watching warily.

As I prepared to leave the frost began to return to the lane as the day drew towards its close and a single Robin bobbed around my feet eking out the bare pickings in the last of the sunlight before it fled, chased away by the oncoming dusk.

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Then gradually the sky caught fire against the stark winter trees as the sun finally set behind the hills, plunging the valley into shade and frosty mist. The golden glow searing the sky for a few wonderful magical minutes.

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