1st of October, my final full day on the island and the weather was wet and windy but the first day of proper south easterlies and simultaneous high pressure further east, of the trip. I had a frustrating 30 minutes chasing around an Olive Backed Pipit that I’d seen closly in flight and heard call a few times near Setter’s Hill Estate, most likely the bird Brydon had found some days before. It flew over the houses and I just thought ‘fuck it’ (He’d had a similar experience with it a day or two before also apparently.)  After lunch at my new accommodation, Shore station, Burrafirth I had a little Bunting feeding at the bottom of the wall 10 metres from my door. Quite a dull bird, occasionally flying around calling but approachable.

Rachel, the owner of the property had mentioned previously that I should walk around the grounds of the main house and have a look, as I hadn’t done up to this point I began walking up the steep drive only to flush a large, dark looking Locastella out of cover on the grassy bank just below me, It had flown over the wall and out of sight, I rushed round to the rockery area, a small hillside with mostly ferns and long grass cover broken up with regular large flat rocks. The bird flushed out of a tussock and back over the wall again, I quickly approached the chest height dyke and peered over. Amazingly, the bird was out in the open next to the tyre of the owners Landrover out on the black gravel. Fucking hell…PALLAS’ GROPPER!!!

…It  dashed underneath the Landrover only to return to its initial spot with its back to me and facing back in my direction ,I could see its warm brown and streaky mantle, rusty coloured rump contrasting dark tail with some unworn white tips just visible and white tertial spots. The bird quick stepped over to some cover in the corner of a walled section of garden gas canister, old pallets and timber and some tall grass too.

I was very excited, and told pals on private message groups and made some phone calls to Allan, Brydon and David and knew I needed to speak to the landlady before putting news out ‘nationally’ it had also started to piss it down.

A few minutes later and the news went out, a search ensued but the bird was nowhere to be seen. It took a while but eventually it was picked up down near the walled garden and a good number of people saw it that evening, everyone was well behaved and the following morning was even better without any need for organized flushes as the bird was sitting out in the open and showing in the grass every so often. It proved Easy enough to keep tabs on with the number of eyes on it.

Thanks to Pete Morris for the incredible above image and to Simon King for the equally brilliant one below.

Im really happy to have found it on my last day, rounds the trip off beautifully despite my undeniable worry that Im leaving the place where most of the action will be for this week. But Im keen to keep plans, fate and all that. Scillies is next for me, three weeks on beloved Agnes, bring on the Americans.

Id like to thanks Paula and Allan Conlin for putting me up at the lovely Bordanoost lodge, the Jewel of Haroldswick 😉 Check out the link if you’re thinking about going up in future and staying, I can throughly recommend. Ive kept the blogging fairly brief but i could go on and on about things like an amazing Aurora one night and a day where i counted 44 Yellow-broweds across the island.. lovely stuff and plenty more for things i want to see next time. Im happy with the finds, saw some brilliant birds and met some really great people.

Thanks also to David Cooper, Brydon Thomason and Robbie Brookes for being so nice and hope to see you all again, heres a few images from the last week or so…

Above pic courtesy of Allan Conlin

Author: Jamie Partridge

Birding South East Kent: Langdon Hole to South Foreland

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