Sunday, 10 October 2010


The impressive yet misty Huntcliff area just east of Saltburn-on-Sea, Cleveland.

With the east coast set to continue its decent run of rarities, I decided to stay overnight in Yorkshire again on the Saturday night.  Early on Sunday morning I heard that the East Midlands ASBO crew were on their way to hit Spurn... at pace.  Although tempting, I envisaged that the better quality birds would be making landfall slightly further north.  As I made my way up the A1 my instincts proved correct when news of a RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL in Cleveland came through on the pager.  With Steve Dunn and Mike Feely currently watching a superb Pallas's Warbler at Sammy's Point, had I made the wrong decision though? 

After parking up in the quaint seaside town of Saltburn, I hiked up and along the clifftops to Huntcliff.  As I plodded on, I was hearing the same sounds as I had during the previous day at Spurn.  Goldcrests were calling from the sparse sections of scrub and Redwings were streaming in off the sea.  The odd Brambling was also seen along the coastal footpath.  As I arrived on the scene I was disappointed to be told that the target rarity had just been ringed and released.  I was worried that the bird would either become very elusive after its ordeal or even worse, would disappear completely.  I need not have worried though as I soon picked up the gorgeous RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL sparring with a European Robin at the base of a broken line of bushes.  

The Huntcliff RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL prior to its release.
Photo kindly provided by Damian Money

After a while, the RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL became more elusive as more ramblers made their way through.  I then noticed a single bird fly from cover and land in a ploughed field behind where the small group of birders had congregated.  It was either a Robin or the Bluetail and I was delighted to see through my bins that it was the latter.  The bird showed well hopping around in the open with just a single Song Thrush and a Northern Wheatear for company.  Whilst enjoying the bird, I noticed a couple of immaculate Lapland Buntings walk into the same field of view.  I eventually concluded that there were at least five birds present.  What a great start to the day! 

Have the Samaritans erected this sign to prick the conscience of potential cliff jumpers or is it aimed of weary, insane birding year-listers like me?

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