This morning was a very normal, very early routine visit to Beachy Head. A beautiful but birdless few hours. A singing Black Redstart way down on the cliff face was nice to hear and the Ravens were coming and going from their nest, which is stuffed into the sheer cliff face. A phyllosc. flicked over the cliff top making land fall in the old trapping area, too distantly to assign to species. I walked on into Shooters Bottom but saw nothing more interesting than a couple of Chiffchaff and 2 Blackcap in song. 3 Swallows came in off the sea. Then, the sedate, relaxed morning was turned on its head… I received a message via twitter from Kris Gillam saying “Al Redman has just found a male Blue Rock Thrush at Belle Tout Lighthouse”. WHAT THE HELL?! A period of panic ensued.
Well done Mr Redman!
After being flushed from the Lighthouse by 100 noisy German students, the bird settled into feeding amongst the slopes below.
It would appear there’s a good chance the bird is the same individual that wintered in Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire. Mainly based upon the composition of the tail combined with the left wing held slightly drooped, like the Gloucestershire bird.
I have thought what a perfect location Beachy Head (especially the isolated buildings of Belle Tout Lighthouse) would be for a Rock Thrush of either species. It would appear I was having another birders dream though! I also had a male Common Redstart whilst searching for the Thrush.
Above the apparent “drooping” of the left wing.
To my understanding there are 6 accepted UK records which are reproduced below.
- 4th-8th June 1985 – Skerryvore Lighthouse, SSW of Tiree, Argyll. Male.
- 4th June 1987 – Moel-y-gest, Gwynedd. Male.
- 14th-15th October 1999 – St. Mary’s, Isles of Scilly. Male.
- 25th October 1999 – Cot Valley, Cornwall. Male (possibly same bird as the Isles of Scilly bird)
- 14th-18th May 2000 – Geevor, Pendeen, Cornwall. First-summer female.
- 11th April 2007 – Elan Valley, Powys. Male