Red-flanked bluetail, Flamborough, November 2021

Last week I had to be over in Flamborough for a meeting. I’d seen that there was a rare migrant bird in the area though, and decided to combine work and pleasure…

Flamborough is one of my favourite places, and it was a lovely day with blue skies, sunshine, and surprisingly little wind. As readers know, I don’t really ‘twitch’, but if I’m by coincidence near something interesting, I’ll try spot it. Sometimes this can be really difficult if you have a non-descript bird that is hiding in deep cover, rarely popping out. On other days, you get the Whitby desert wheatear or the Collingham hoopoe. Happily, this was the latter case, given it was occupying a small picnic area next to the path, two minutes from the carpark.

As I arrived and headed for the gang of men with large cameras, I stopped to get my own camera and binoculars out. This meant I was looking down the path and saw two roe deer wander out, stand on the path, look back at the oblivious men, then wander on.

Annoyingly, my camera seems to have a bit of a fault at the moment and the motor on the auto-focus is running really slow. So even though the bird was very easily seen, and would hop within about ten feet, my photos are a bit rubbish.

As you can see, it is very well-named. Blue tail, and orangey-red flanks.

It is a very robin-like bird, right down to its behaviour, hopping between branches, dropping into the leaf litter, foraging for little insects. It was aware of the gang of viewers, but seemed pretty relaxed*.

It was a charming little thing, and I was very happy I’d made the 5 minute drive from North Landing to South Landing.

So, the red-flanked bluetail goes on my list of worthwhile semi-twitches. One day I’ll tell of the far-less satisfying pied-billed grebe!

The * above is because there is a note to the point about the bird being relaxed. It’s by a footpath in a popular walking spot. But that didn’t bother it. What did, and I will say I didn’t observe this myself, is that on several occasions, supposed birders/wildlife photographers were pushing into the undergrowth to disturb it out to try get a better photo. This was, clearly, both ignorant and entirely unnecessary. But it sounds like local birders policed this behaviour themselves, which is admirable.

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I welcome thoughts, comments and questions, so please feel free to share anything at all. Thanks, David

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