Black-throated Thrush – Webheath, Worcestershire

We visited Peter & Sue in Swindon for the weekend. I had mentioned to Peter that I would like to try for the Black-throated Thrush in Worcestershire. Unfortunately the bird was not reported during the week prior to our visit, it had first been seen on 17th January. However, a 2nd Black-throated Thrush had been seen on Friday afternoon in Bristol, which was even closer. When we arrived at their house on Saturday we rang birdline and discovered that the Bristol bird had gone but that the thrush at Webheath in Worcestershire had reappeared. We discussed tactics and agreed that the boys would arrange to get to Webheath for first light and then meet the girls at Slimbridge in the afternoon, thus giving me the opportunity to see the Lesser White-fronted Goose which could be the 2nd tick of the day.

Peter arranged to set the alarm for 6am, I awoke with daylight streaming in through the windows and realised that Peter had ignored the alarm call, it was 7am. We were now behind track, we left at 7:30am and arrived at Webheath at 9am. Apparently the bird had been seen briefly at 8am (our intended arrival time) and not since. Everyone spread out to search its favoured areas. I noticed a birder giving directions, which led us to a bird at the top of a tree. I realised he had found a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker but the huge crowd which had charged up behind us thought he had located the Black-throated Thrush. Judging by their language they weren’t too pleased.

Half an hour later another birder came back from a walk to say that he had relocated the thrush half a mile down the road amongst a huge flock of Fieldfares. By now Peter had disappeared off on his own looking for thrush flocks. The group moved off following the birder back to the fields where he had seen the bird. The fields were huge and in the distance we could see large flocks of Fieldfares and Redwings. Several birders claimed to be seeing the bird but their directions were appalling. Eventually I got on to the bird in question and was at best doubtful over the identification, I hoped it wouldn’t be my only view! Twenty minutes later Peter joined the group, he had been gone for more than an hour. We decided to head back to the original place and then to where we thought the Fieldfare flocks were heading. No luck but we did find a smaller group of Redwing in which another birder claimed to have seen the Black-throated Thrush. We gave it a while and then Peter went to find a telephone box to see when the girls wanted to meet in Slimbridge.

Five minutes later he returned to say that the bird had been relocated back in the housing estate where we had parked originally. We rushed back and in loose groups we ventured through the estate, no one seemed to know where to look. Pretty soon, however, a lone thrush appeared over the rooftops and dropped down out of sight. Even in flight it was clear that this was the Black-throated Thrush. Using a mixture of good luck and intuition we tracked the bird down and eventually had very good views of it as it perched in the bare trees.

Looking back it seems to me that the bird never left the housing estate and we had spent several hours on wild goose chases. We were a bit behind track again and so we sped off to Slimbridge.

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