A vagrant from Asia

I thought that I might not go out at all today: A combination of work to do and bad weather!

However at about 2pm the weather cleared a little and so I decided to venture forth to Brancaster, where a rare Hume’s warbler has been seen for several weeks. This is a bird from the mountain forests of the Himalayas and is a vagrant to western Europe. I had never seen one before, which is always a draw!

It was cold and windy, but I found three other birdwatchers looking for the little warbler. I had looked it up before leaving home, so I knew the plumage details and also what calls it might make – which is always a help. And then we heard it, and glimpsed it very briefly in flight between bushes. Then nothing. I knew the bird I had seen for about 0.5 seconds was a Hume’s warbler, but the view had been so bad and so short that I would most likely not add it to my life list unless I saw it more clearly.

a cold and windy Brancaster – the Hume’s warbler was in the central bushes

Luckily for me it then decided to fly into the nearest bush to where I was, call a few times and then appear in full view on an exposed branch for 10 to 20 seconds: Perfect! A minute or so later my attention was caught by movement further off and there was a barn owl out doing some early evening hunting.

So in the end two new birds for our 2023 list, and a new species for my life list.

A word on life lists: I started birdwatching aged about 14, so I’ve been doing it for nearly 50 years. But I have never spent enough time out and about, and never enough time really learning to identify rarer or more difficult to differentiate species. Even so I get a huge amount of enjoyment out of birdwatching, and some of my favourite birds are relatively common. In recent years I’ve also enjoyed trying to get decent photographs of as many species as possible.

But I’ve never been a “twitcher”, out at all times chasing rarities. My current life list for the UK is 284, and worldwide it’s 609 [if you’re re-reading this and wonder why those numbers have changed in a downward direction from the original post it’s because I did a bit of list housekeeping and discovered that I had some accidental duplicates, which I’ve now removed, and a couple of records where I had obviously just tapped on the wrong species on my app by mistake!] . To put this into perspective there are a nearly 11,000 bird species in the world, and the official British list currently stands at 630 (though only about half of these occur with regularity here). Most serious birders would easily have a British life list of well over 350, so I’m way behind. But I don’t mind! That just means I’ve got lots to look forward to 🙂

Brenda managed to take photo of yarrow today at Wighton (she first saw it a couple of days ago), but saw no new flower species.


S: Any moths in the moth trap today?
B: (look of withering contempt) No. Nothing.

New species for January 7th:
Birds: Hume’s warbler, barn owl

Birds = 60
Moths = 0
Wildflowers = 8