A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

Monday, 9 January 2017

Black-throated Thrush in St Asaph, North Wales!

When news broke of a Black-throated Thrush photographed only an hour away in St Asaph towards the end of December, it was a no brainer to make the short journey over the next day in an attempt to catch up with this Siberian visitor. With just a single observation in the Hawthorn trees surrounding the football pitch on the Friday afternoon and again showing itself only on one occasion early on Saturday morning to just a handful of birders, the trail went cold over the following days as the thrush seemingly vanished in to thin air, despite the hundred or so strong flock of Redwings and Blackbirds remaining to take advantage of the rich pickings in the leaf litter.
Black-throated Thrush - St Asaph, North Wales
The St Asaph Black-throated Thrush
Luckily, Alex was on the case living just 10 minutes away, and over successive visits throughout the next two days, he finally managed to pin down this elusive thrush’s location! Having been frequenting an area just a short hop over the other side of the River Elwy and favouring the stubble field and Hawthorn tree next to the New Inn pub, the re-find certainly made a lot of local birders extremely happy! A large amount of people were able to connect over the following days as a result, but being back in work meant I wasn’t able to see this local rarity myself until the Thursday. Unfortunately, the thrush didn’t play ball upon my arrival after two days of showing well, and the trail once more went cold as it did a disappearing act mid-morning shortly before I arrived – I couldn’t dip for a third time surely?! 
St Asaph
The Hawthorn alleyway I'd been scoping for most of the day
Thankfully, 4 ½ hours of trudging up and down the muddy riverside path later, a pale brown thrush flew in to the favoured Hawthorn tree and the shouts went up that all those remaining looking had been hoping for: “That’s it – Black-throated Thrush, here now!!” Abandoning my half eaten sandwich I quickly got it in the scope, the gorgeous brown speckled chest almost glowing in the late afternoon sun as it perched proudly in the bare winter branches. Fantastic!
Black-throated Thrush - St Asaph, North Wales
Luckily we had prime position on our side of the river – the 30 or so others on the opposite bank had the agonising choice to make of whether to try and scope into the ditch the thrush had now flown in to (out of sight from the east side and at an impossible angle to see) or walk all the way back around to the bridge and hope that it stayed feeding until they could get on it!!

It did indeed stay, and over the next half an hour or so we enjoyed great views as the thrush fed in the stubble field - showing off the light brown chest that indicated that this was a female and lacking the jet black throat that a male bird would display. At one point it pulled up a huge worm, tucking in before eventually flying off over towards the nearby houses.
Black-throated Thrush - St Asaph, North Wales
Black-throated Thrush - St Asaph, North Wales
The Black-throated Thrush's favourite stubble field
Heading back to the car as the light was fading, a quick check of the Hawthorn alleyway I’d been scoping all day surprisingly revealed the thrush had perched up for a last feed before dark, and we enjoyed great views just to ourselves as it scrambled through the branches above us before flying off in to the tall trees behind the houses – presumably to roost.
Black-throated Thrush - St Asaph, North Wales
Black-throated Thrush - St Asaph, North Wales
St Asaph
The gardens and houses the Black-throated Thrush had been frequenting
An absolute nightmare to catch up with and one of the most elusive birds I’ve ever twitched, it was a relief to finally get it on my 3rd attempt after over 11 hours of searching! With the Black-throated Thrush staying in the same stubble field and surrounding Hawthorns up until New Year’s Eve, there has been no sign of it since the turn of the New Year, the firework display at the New Inn pub perhaps moving it on overnight to a new patch of ground and favoured feeding spot. A great local bird to catch up with and yet another rare thrush delivered after an exceptional autumn! Overwintering Siberian Thrush now anyone?!

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