On Friday morning I went down to a dark and damp Hartlepool headland in search of the Red Spotted Bluethroat.
Last time we were at the headland there were chaotic and embarrassing scenes as all ladders and car roofs were climbed on to see the White Throated Robin.
No such scenes on our latest trip with only a few birders and photographers present.
The main threat to the birds on Friday was the presence of a grey cat, which kept low in the undergrowth of the memorial garden with a dead mouse and ringed blackbird beside it. The ring was later recovered.
Plenty of other birds were taking shelter around the garden as we searched for our target bird. Willowchiff, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler and Grasshopper Warbler were all seen.
After an our or so of searching somebody found the Bluethroat – a lifer for me, in one of the front gardens opposite the memorial gardens. It frequented four joining gardens, often disappearing before reappearing on a wall or gatepost before picking off insects from surrounding plants and vanishing again into thicker cover.
Although our views were relatively brief they were well worth it as we got to appreciate this truly stunning bird from less than a metre at times.
Whilst watching the Bluethroat hop around a bare patch of soil in on of the gardens, a Lesser Whitethroat flew past being chased by the cat, which then dived onto a nearby wall.
Curious indeed, the cat watched our every move before turning its attentions to the Bluethroat. It landed on the same stretch of wall as the cat and flew off back into the memorial garden just in time as the cat made a dive forward. We didn’t see the Bluethroat again but fortunately it was seen later that afternoon.
Also a Whimbrel called overhead as it flew out to see.
Also on Friday we failed to locate the Nightingale at Cowpen Bewley but did see 2 Little Egrets at Saltholme and plenty of Avocets on Greatham Creek along with a Little Ringed Plover.