Rock Thrush at Pwll du Quarry, Abergavenny, Gwent

Rock Thrush at Pwll du Quarry, Abergavenny, Gwent



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.

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A poor flight shot showing the red underwing

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Northern Wheatear – Pwll du Quarry, Gwent

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World distribution of Rock Thrush (from HBW Alive)

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Rock Thrush twitch

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Rock Thrush favoured quarry

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The view from the walk back to the car

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The view from the walk back to the car

 

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Simon Colenutt

Simon Colenutt

I began birdwatching at the age of nine when living on the Isle of Wight. After obtaining a copy of the Isle of Wight Bird Report from 1976 I realised that Manx Shearwater, Arctic Skua, Pomarine Skua and Black Tern were regularly seen at St.Catherine's Point, only five miles from my home village of Chale Green. To a nine year old these birds were near mythical and so I just had to go and try to see them. Little did I know that these birds were seasonal and after a long winter of seeing nothing I eventually started to bump into other birdwatchers as March drew to a close. It was then that Dave Hunnybun, Dave Wooldridge, Paul Castle, Peter Gandy and Audrey Wilkinson introduced me to the art of seawatching and the joys of bird migration, I have not looked back since.

Simon Colenutt

Simon Colenutt

I began birdwatching at the age of nine when living on the Isle of Wight. After obtaining a copy of the Isle of Wight Bird Report from 1976 I realised that Manx Shearwater, Arctic Skua, Pomarine Skua and Black Tern were regularly seen at St.Catherine's Point, only five miles from my home village of Chale Green. To a nine year old these birds were near mythical and so I just had to go and try to see them. Little did I know that these birds were seasonal and after a long winter of seeing nothing I eventually started to bump into other birdwatchers as March drew to a close. It was then that Dave Hunnybun, Dave Wooldridge, Paul Castle, Peter Gandy and Audrey Wilkinson introduced me to the art of seawatching and the joys of bird migration, I have not looked back since.

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