December Thrushes bring 2016 to a stupendous finale

2016 has got to go down in the birding annals as one of the best years ever. A scintillating autumn with perpetual easterlies brought hundreds if not thousands of waifs from east of the Urals. My previous post was drooling over the run of birds on the east coast - finally, the west and middle England got in on the act.
On 5th November, as I was tidying up the garden, I heard my first Waxwing of the autumn flying overhead - the unmistakable trilling call was to become even more familiar over the coming weeks as small flocks started to infiltrate this side of the Pennines with double figures in Blackburn and recently large counts in several places around East Lancashire.
Waxwings in Blackburn 27 Nov
On 20 November, I went to see this little beauty - a Desert Wheatear on St Annes beach - my third along this stretch of the coast and a fitting end to the autumn, or so we thought

Desert Wheatear, St Annes, Nov 2016

But there was more. News broke in mid December of a Dusky Thrush in Derbyshire and after much nervous anticipation, we decided to put the Christmas Shopping on hold to see this bird and though it gave us the run-around we did get some excellent if distant views. The bird is still there!
First-winter female Dusky Thrush, Beeley, Derbyshire 10 Dec 2016
Then there was the Masked Wagtail, an eastern race of White Wagtail and first for the UK, that turned up in Pembrokeshire - such a smart bird was well worth the effort.
Masked Wagtail, Camrose, Pembrokeshire 11 Dec 2016
Ringing in my garden produced an early Brambling and several Redpolls but no meallies - yet.
Brambling
So that was that? No, the news of a Blue Rock Thrush in Gloucestershire got us going again - a bird I missed when in Spain earlier in the year! Like the Wagtail and indeed the Dusky Thrush, it was hopping around the houses in a small semi-rural estate having been identified from images on social media.
Blue Rock Thrush, Stow on the Wold, 29 Dec 2016


And to cap the trip off, a female Black-throated Thrush showed itself fairly well at St Asaph having also been in the area for a couple of weeks. Thrushes galore and seven new birds for me in Britain this year - five of them lifers. I had none in 2015.

  • Penduline Tit (2) 24 Jan, Gloucester.
  • Pallid Harrier 18 Feb, Norfolk
  • Purple Swamphen, 5 Aug, Minsmere
  • Black-browed Albatross, 5 Oct, Bempton
  • Siberian Accentor, 14 Oct, Easington
  • Dusky Thrush, 10 Dec, Beeley
  • Blue Rock Thrush 29 Dec, Stow on the Wold.

A truly amazing birding year. I need my football team to have one next year! :/

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