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Saturday, 25 February 2017

The Pine Bunting Saga

Back in January local Dunnington birder Terry Weston announced he had a huge flock of Buntings particularly Yellowhammers in the area, on Friday the 20th another local birder, Chris Gomersall went to check them out and incredibly found a superb male Pine Bunting with them but it was not seen again that day however a few intrepid locals gathered the following morning and refound it, I arrived on site late morning but the bird had become elusive and after a couple of hours of suffering the miserable weather due to starting my 2nd cycle of chemo the previous day I gave up on it, typically 20-30 mins after I left up it popped. I was back there on the Sunday with Mark, better weather, bigger twitch and it was seen briefly several times but we were always in the wrong place, thoroughly frustrated by early afternoon I gave up on it again. I hoped it would be third time lucky on the 30th but it didn't prove to be, first of all I dropped my scope smashing the casing around the eyepiece and again the bird didn't show, having superglued the scope back together (although it's misted up a bit inside now) I was back for a fourth attempt after work on the 2nd February, it had been reported around lunchtime in the original field near where some seed had been put down and upon arrival some birders informed me they had seen it about an hour previously but a dog walker had flushed the flock, I went out there anyway and found quite a few birds had returned and after 10 mins of scanning through them I got onto it but as I got it in the scope it moved deeper into the hedge then a couple of seconds later the whole flock flew off, they flew towards the Horse Paddock and I moved round there but although a big number of Buntings were flitting in and out of the stubble I never saw the Pine Bunting there, happy to have seen it but I still would have liked a better view. I tried for that better view on the 16th but sightings had become less frequent and there wasn't many birders looking and subsequently I failed to see it again then today I made my Sixth attempt, it had been reported with regularity from the Paddock at the north end of Kerver Lane all this last week and with already a report from 8am that seemed the place to be, I arrived mid-morning and joined the 10-12 birders there but there had been no further sign of it, a couple of hours passed and a couple of local birders, Jono and Chris moved off to search other areas, after 3+ hours it was typically looking a bit grim but then I got a text off Jono, the birds original finder Chris Gomersall had relocated it in the original field near the seeded area, we moved round there and joined the small group who had seen it and fortunately after 10 mins Chris picked it out again, sat deep in the hedge it was a bit obscured but all its features could be made out and it was nice to get a more prolonged view, it eventually moved further into the hedge and out of sight but about 20 mins later another birder got it near the top of the hedge where it was more out in the open and I at last got a view I was happy with, bloody hard work this bird has been, nice to see a few Bramblings still about as well looking nice and bright as they come into breeding finery.
second sighting near top of hedge a bit less obscured than first sighting

of course as usual it flew off after a short while

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