Blue Rock Thrush….. 25th February, Stow on the Wold.

Well we have managed not to bother about the Stow on the Wold Blue Rock Thrush that has been present for a couple of months over this winter up until now. We had previously seen the bird that spent a few days on Scilly in 1999 (the year of the Whites/ Short-toed Eagle etc). Indeed we had storming views of that on our first afternoon on the islands that year when one of the boat men diverted into Porthloo bay and got us close to the bird on rocks. We were lucky with that one, we always went to Scilly Saturday to Saturday but that year we had not been able to get accommodation for that and instead went Friday/Friday, the one and only time we did this and the Blue Rock Thrush left that night.

However we had work down in Warwick and were seeing friends down there too so decided that as its only 30 miles further we would take in the bird on the way home on Saturday the 25th. We had happily got up on Saturday morning to prepare for breakfast before waving good bye to our mates when I decided to invent a new extreme sport, Stair Diving, unfortunately I received nul points for style or content and ended up well fluffing the landing… and ended up a gibbering heap on the ground floor with an extremely unhappy ankle and screaming in pain. I must admit from what happened I thought I had broken it as to start with I could not put weight on it and it had doubled up under me as I landed and I felt a sick inducing pop, but as I rested I concluded I had very badly sprained it. It was still wrapped tightly in my boot and I left it there.

This of course made us think of coming straight home instead of going to the Blue Rock Thrush. However after a couple of hours with my foot up and after getting in the car I decided that as I had a commission for the bird I had better see the damn thing. The twitching demon took over… Honest. We were surprised on reaching Stow that even on this very gloomy and damp afternoon the place was heaving with people and we had real trouble finding parking. Why is this always the case when you need to be close to where you are going because, say, you cannot walk! We had not appreciated how touristy the place was. Anyhow we found a spot a small distance away and grabbed camera and bins, and my mono-pod as a walking stick, and gingerly set off. It took ages to limp the few hundred yards to Fisher Close and Maugersbury Park roads where the bird had been this morning.  Arriving we found a few birders mooching round and found the bird had not showed for a couple of hours at least. Again just when you don’t want to be standing a lot! Predictably it wasn’t playing ball, we stood in Maugersbury Park for what seemed like ages watching the local Robin, Blackbird and Starlings and a solitary Red Kite, before struggling round to Fisher Close to again fail to find the bird. Oh dear this wasn’t looking good. There was also  the constant nagging fear you would be standing in one road when it showed in the other, and I was in no position to run round. The weather was closing in and time was ticking by, and my ankle was slowly getting worse. Back to Maugersbury Park. We happy band of hopeful twitchers had dwindled to just 5 souls by now, standing on a corner staring at a small back garden, of which we could see just the tops of the tall walls and a single smallish tree in front of a leylandii hedge. Some Starlings raucously arrived on the aerial of number 27 and dropped down into the garden behind the wall. One flicked up into a tree… idly I raised my bins and as I did I noticed another bird perched mostly obscured below it in the tree. I could just see the top of its head. I thought another Starling or the Blackbird that had been flying in and out… but looking I was surprised to see what I thought was a blue tone. Could it be? I moved position and got a slightly better angle, more of the bird was in view. Blimey that was it.

Version 2

First view… not obviously blue is it.

A bit more jiggling around and a much better view through the branches was obtained. How had it just materialized in there? Not one of us had seen a bird fly in despite watching the area all the time. After getting all those who where there onto the bird (I felt for the chap who left just before it showed) we enjoyed quite prolonged views as it sat deep within the tree. Unfortunately the weather had become quite dark, and rain had started to fall so photo’s were hard. In the rather gloomy light the bird looked rather dull blue grey rather than bright blue, and could be seen to still have some of the pale feather tips although to me some of the ones visible in the early photo’s seem to have worn away. Across the lower breast some scalloping could be seen.

Version 2

Bit better view. Sitting in the tree looking blue.

It dropped down towards the garden after about 10minutes briefly perching out in the open on the garden wall and allowing us to see it really well. We thought that was that, but shortly after it popped back up onto the wall and I grabbed a couple of snaps which are dark and soft/grainy due to the high ISO, but you can see the blue in the rear shot.

img_0356

Up the Garden Wall….

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The bird then flew and disappeared. Not perhaps the crippling rooftop view we had hoped for but good enough. We decided that was it as the rain threatened to get harder and we headed north and home. Oh, and overnight and on the Sunday my ankle, now released from my boot swelled massively… looked like a football, that will teach me… Or not.

 

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