As I was heading out to work this morning a flood of messages started raining on me, and 15 minutes later I was heading to Dungeness NNR to twitch what was then an Empidonax sp., a notoriously difficult to identify group of American flycathcers. It would be my first Nearctic landbird in the WP, and the first images that came out demonstrated that the bird was showing ridiculously well, so I was very keen to go. I joined James, Will and Michael and as we sped down the motorways we learned that the bird is an Acadian or Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. It went missing, then it reappeared and we all sighed in relief. By the time we got there it evolved into 'probable Acadian'. We arrived in Dungennes at about 14:00 and it was pissing down with rain. Really horrible weather. The bird was sheltering in a private garden with no access and limited views. Because of the weather the bird didn't show for the first hour or so, but slowly it did become active again and eventually showed reasonably well by the front of the house. It was never a crowd-pleaser though - all its appearances were rather brief and then it would disappear back into the depth of the garden. I was badly positioned among the large crowd so missed the best photo opps but had good views of it. I am no expert on empid ID at all, but from what I gather the identification as Acadian Flycatcher seems correct - long primary projection, greenish above:
It's a 1cy - obvious moult limit in greater coverts, and pointed tail feathers:
There seems to be another feature to separate Acadian from Yellow-bellied - whether P6 is emarginated or not. So this bird does not have emargination on P6 therefore it should be an Acadian.
If accepted as Acadian, it is a monster WP record. The only previous record was of one found dead in Iceland in November 1967!
Good to meet up with lots of friends there. I wish we had more time and better weather to explore Dungeness and its crickets but that will have to wait for another time as we had another bird to see. The only other bird of note at Dungeness was a Yellow Wagtail.
Our next stop was RSPB Vange Marshes in Essex. Beautiful small wetland just off the A13. We headed the to see the Wilson's Phalarope that took up residence there since yesterday. We parked the car and walked off the road. The bird was showing well albeit very distant. We enjoyed good scope views but photography was rubbish. It was feeding very actively in the open water. Not sure about its age.
This was another lifer for me - I did not see any during my visits to the USA.
There were quite a few other shorebirds there - 4 (!) Little Stints, Green Sandpiper etc.
Then it was the long way back home. Many thanks to James, Will and Michael for the good time. Bird on!