Monday, 30 June 2014

In search of the Black throated Accentor

The day started with porridge for breakfast followed by a 9 hour walk around the surrounding hills in search of the elusive Black throated Accentor. There had been some intel on recent sightings but despite an extensive search at the edges of the tree line we found only Dunnocks. The initial stages of our walk took us up the steep stream beds in the forest leading to boulder fields and grassy /heather covered areas higher up. Birds seen on route included Nutcracker, Black throated Thrush, Song Thrush, Common Crossbill, Olive-backed Pipit, Greenish and Arctic warblers, Common Rosefinch, Little Bunting, Brambling, Siberian Tit, and Willow Tit. There was no sign of the Black throated Accentor.
The following day we took the Mini bus to check the hillside a little further away. Again the initial stages of the walk involved walking up a steep stream bed for nearly an hour before emerging above the treeline in an area with scattered trees grassy slopes with small patches of snow.
Approaching the top
Following the stream bed through the forest
Greenish warbler
Little Bunting

 We were met by the sound of a Corncrake as we began to scan the groups of trees for the day's target bird, the Siberian Rubythroat. This was the bird I really wanted to see and all the discomfort and inconveniences of the campsite would be forgotten for a sight of this bird. When word went out that a Rubythroat was perched up in a Birch tree 100 metres or so away I was standing next to Roger K who was kind enough to let me use his 'scope. Initially the bird was facing away but then turned its head to reveal its stunning throat patch. We had further closer views as the bird moved around its territory. Unforgettable.
Siberian Rubythroat
Siberian Rubythroat in full voice

We moved on to search for another rarity of the area, Swinhoe's Snipe. We had a brief glimpse of a Great Snipe but no sign of the Swinhoe's. Other birds in the area included Fieldfare, Black throated Thrush, Yellow browed warbler and the eastern form of Lesser Whitethroat sounding very different from the birds we get in the UK.
Black throated Thrush
On the way down we had a close encounter with a Hazelhen with a brood of chicks, while
on the drive back we had Dipper and Common Sandpiper at one of the many river crossings.

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