Tuesday, 22 September 2015

MEGA - Acadian Flycatcher at Dungeness

After news broke of Martin Casemore's fantastic find on the beach at Dungeness Point I was itching to get out of work and head east to get a look at my second Empidomax flycatcher in Britain after seeing the Alder Flycatcher on Blakeney Point in 2010. I left work at 11.00am after sorting out a few bits and arrived at the point at 12.15pm only to find it had been missing since 11.25am having not seen disappear from its first location. As I got out of my car I was thinking that this is going to be a nightmare, everyone was glum faced and I was thinking that it was going to be in the Desert/Trapping Area and be an absolute nightmare to be able to find. I headed towards Dave Bunney's house South View as most people were relying on others finding it as usual. I literally could not believe my eyes when I looked down on the floor and the bloody Flycatcher was sat sheltering behind a small tuft of gorse. What the hell were the chances of that, I immediately shouted out to a couple of guys who were sat in their cars and they quickly joined me but sadly it flew into the brambles on the edge of Dave Bunney's garden.

Acadian Flycatcher - Dungeness Point
Soon enough birders were coming from all directions and I gave Martin a quick ring to say I had found the bird again, chucked it on twitter so the pager lads would put the new out then fumbled about with me camera to try and get a shot or two! I was also a little worried about hords of people circling Dave's garden which I didn't think he would particularly like so tried to keep people at a sensible distance. Luckily Owen arrived very promptly and between him and LGRE they managed the crowd perfectly and whilst I was present all seemed to be pretty peaceful.
Acadian Flycatcher - Dungeness Point
The bird showed well in the garden whilst I was present and was busy catching spiders and a few other flying insects continually. It often perched on the water butt, sky dish or bench to look for potential meals. Overall the bird appeared very greenish above and yellow below. The tail appeared broad to me and not narrowing at the vent like in Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. The wing bars had a delicate yellow/green hue unlike the Alder Flycatcher I saw in 2010 on Blakeney Point which can be seen below.
Alder Flycatcher - Blakeney Point
Also on the Dungeness bird the secondaries were edged with a clear yellow tinge whereas the Blakeney bird had all white-edged secondaries. The bill on the Dungeness bird seemed to look odd to me and strangely downcurved but strong. In studying better photos it seems to downcurved and even slightly hook tipped so it wasn't my mind playing tricks on me!
Acadian Flycatcher - Dungeness Point

Acadian Flycatcher - Dungeness Point

All in all an absolutely stonking bird and even more exciting was that it was only the second ever Acadian Flycatcher to make landfall in the Western Palearctic after the bird found dead in Iceland in 1967. I would like to congratulate Martin Casemore for such an incredible find, it just goes to show putting in effort every day does eventually pay off with a biggie! Well done Martin!!! Also to Dave W, Gill, Owen, Dave B etc for all the groundwork put in to make the bird available for the hundreds of birders lucky enough to be able to get to see it. So good to see Dungeness back on the birding map by landing this monster!!!!

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