I picked up Bazzo (great to see him out in the field again) and Alan Wright and pulled out of Southport for 7am-ish today, just in time to enter the yawning maw of the M58/M6/M56 rush hour and grind very slowly south eastwards towards Beeley in the Peak District.
Grey, damp drizzly conditions and clouds of car-poo created a depressing December fug, so that most of the smaller towns on the southside of Manchester looked like the type of places where Waxwings came to die.
We pushed on and I pulled into Beeley just over three hours later, nabbing the last parking space at the excellent Dukes Barn Outdoor Activity Centre, where quite splendidly the lingering Dusky Thrush was feeding in the wet grass in the orchard behind the building in the murk.
Fine views of it on the deck – a really striking critter, with a lightning strike super and surprisingly dark chest and paler undercrackers.
Suddenly it flew off over the rooftops of the village, calling like a particularly soft-voiced Fieldfare – more “chuck chuck chuck” than “chack chack chack”, but still loud.
We waited for an hour or so in case it returned, but then it was relocated by one of the 399 other birders wandering round the picturesque Peak District village (pretty, but oddly difficult to find the road out of….very Royston Vasey) feeding in hawthorns in fields down Pig Lane.
We had great views of it perched up there – scope filling, and in many ways looking a whole lot better than it did on the deck – what a face…and look at those chainmail underparts.
Usual dire photographic efforts from yours truly, but I was there for the bird, not the picture.
We were done by 1230 and I drove back home up considerably quieter roads, getting into Southport by 1445.
Couldn’t have asked for more help from the good folk of Beeley – bacon baps, coffee, help parking – marvellous, and as for on-site directions – well, you couldn’t really fault ’em…