Saturday, 21 October 2017

Rock Thrush - Pwll du Quarry, Abergavenny, Gwent - 20th October

News of a male Rock Thrush found at Pwll du Quarry, Gwent (SO244119) on 12th October gave me  twitching pangs. I had long wanted to see this species in the UK but previous records have either been too far away, fleeting stayers or I have just not had the time to go see them. But this bird seemed to be sticking and so come Friday 20th I had planned an early start for the 2.5 hour drive to see the bird. Arriving at 07:30 as the sun was rising I walked the mile or so northwards from the parking area to the quarry that the bird had been frequenting. The view was stunning across the Welsh valleys as the sun rose and Redwing called from the hedgerows. At the quarry there were five other birders and we searched the quarry face and boulder scree with no luck. At 09:45 the shout went up that the bird was in the second quarry so after a short dash back I joined a small group of birders watching the bird preen and stretch atop the quarry, the bird had evidently just emerged from its roost. After a short while the bird flew 100 metres north and settlled in its favoured quarry. Over the next couple of hours I enjoyed stunning views of this fantastic bird down to seven metres as it fed on the grassland in the quarry consuming beetle grubs and on one occasion a fully grown Devil's Coach Horse. There were no more than 20 birders here during my time. Also in the quarry was a single Wheatear and five Crossbill flew west overhead.

A poor flight shot showing the red underwing

Northern Wheatear - Pwll du Quarry, Gwent

World distribution of Rock Thrush (from HBW Alive)

Rock Thrush twitch

Rock Thrush favoured quarry

The view from the walk back to the car

The view from the walk back to the car