Citrine Wagtail

Have I said how much I love living and birding here? Well, I do. It’s great.

Take today – got up before first light to spend a couple of hours trying to get to grips with a shrike JLI found yesterday – a really furtive beast that eventually succumbed to BM’s mistnet later in the day and proved to be as JLI had initially called it, a Red-backed. Still, it was fun while it lasted trying to piece together an identification based upon split-second views of a shrike that dived into deep cover as soon as it sensed you were nearby, and resolutely refused to give itself up by sitting out on a fence like 99.9% of other Red-backed Shrikes do. Got some nice photos of Lesser Whitethroats massacring craneflies for their breakfast. Yum.

Anyhow, drove home to start work at 9am, and found another Red-backed Shrike flying over the road in front of me – this time a nice easy rufousy-orange one. Heading back into Symbister at lunchtime, I nearly ran over a wagtail on the road between Skaw and Vatshoull. It bombed off north onto the moor, leaving me thinking shit that looked pale…, and hurriedly reversing off the road and setting off on foot in hot pursuit.

Ran in the general direction it had gone, and flushed it from a small boggy bit of moor, this time just a short distance before it landed and I could finally get binoculars on it. Citrine Wagtail! Superb, but one small problem – phone and camera both back in the car… Legged it back, collected them, ran back to where I’d last seen the bird, phoning JLI en route, and promptly flushed it again. Should say that “flushed it” does not mean “ran right up to it and booted it” – this was a bird that flew the moment you broke the skyline. It led me a merry chase across the moor, me sprinting along trying to not lose sight of it in flight, and then trying to stalk up to where I thought it had landed to get a photo without it sensing me and buggering off again. The happy outcome of this was the pair of us passing the Vevoe junction at one point, thus bringing it within my self-determined patch boundaries.

Eventually ended up right back where I began, within a few feet of my abandoned car, it feeding in the roadside ditch, and me finally able to get a few photos. Eventually being a long chase, but a very short time… in which JLI had arrived, and gave me a thumbs up as he stood beside his car and the wagtail fed briefly in the ditch beside him, before it flew yet again, this time high and down the hill towards Vatshoull. Despite searching, we couldn’t relocate it.

And so back to work for the afternoon. This week just goes on getting better and better. And there’s still half of September, and the whole of October to come…


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