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|Rufous-tailed Rock-Thrush (Monticola saxatilis) Old World Flycatchers (Muscicapidae)|
|Stendrossel Roquero Rojo|
2020-06-19 Ebeltoft, Djursland, Denmark
Young female, 2cy. Aged by very worn central tail feathers and generally brownish remiges. Sexed by the general female look; a young male would look more like an adult male at this time.
This bird ranks as a mega rarity in Denmark and therefore subject to first-level twitching. I normally don't do long-distance twitching. Not anymore. But coincident had it that we, family, had a reunion planned for the 21th of June requiring a ferry trip, Odden-Ebeltoft, making it almost unavoidable to intent to see the bird, if it was still present.
It was discovered on the 10th of June, and during the following days, when the bird continued to be seen, it started to smell like a bird that had found a place to stay for the summer, well-supported by the fine weather. The last, perhaps, two weeks had given us continued clear skies and high temperatures. It had probably been there even longer, the place of discovery being off the normal birding paths - the founder didn't know what he was looking at but fortunately took photos and asked around.
A week before we should travel, back home on Amager, I mentioned to one of the first twitchers, who had seen the bird, that I was hoping it would stay till next Friday, supporting my wish by the same argument as just mentioned. But he just shook his head with the word Ridiculous written in his eyes. This however, didn't discourage me much, because it happened that he a week earlier when we talked about the likeliness of a Little Bittern , which had been found at our local patch, see 3428, staying till the next day, where he, likewise, concluded that it would not happen because birds discovered in Sweden always had just stayed for one day. 'Our' bittern stayed for at least 3 days..!
During the week I checked dofbasen every day, and several times, and felt more and more excited as the days went by, and the bird continued to be reported. With the bird also present on Thursday, in the evening I started to feel very confident that this incredibly slow twitch I was about to make, would actually be successful.
But this only lasted till the next morning when it started to, seriously, pour down, when we left Copenhagen. Two weeks of excellent and stable weather ended in this same moment. How ironic and cruel can life be?! It was difficult not to think that this would affect the bird somehow. Of course I would not know exactly how. But it could very well be that it had already perceived the weather change and had left. Checking the radar video from dmi, however, it looked like the rain was not affecting Djursland, and as we got closer to Odden, having left the rain behind, I started to allow myself a small hope. Perhaps...
But had I checked the weather forecast well, I would very likely have known that the weather system was moving in a northwest direction leading the rain clouds on a course exactly from Copenhagen to Djursland, and particularly Ebeltoft. And indeed, just as the ferry landed in the harbor of Ebeltoft it started to rain here too. Not as heavy as in Copenhagen, but still enough for me to get very wet while making a effort to find the bird. Two guys were about to leave from the rock pile, where the bird normally was seen, and they could confirm that the bird was not there. So I had to walk to the other side of the harbor, where I knew it had also been seen. On my way there, I was joined by a couple, on foot, who had been with the ferry too, coming all the way from Bornholm, east of Sweden. No luck on the other side either, and as the rain intensified I quickly returned to the car, where my mother was waiting dry and comfortable. I did send a thought to the couple, but we didn't have enough space for two more soaking wet persons, why I decided not to offer them shelter. They hopefully found a dry spot somewhere.
This was of course not still a final defeat, but it surely felt like it in the moment. Luckily we were in no hurry and my mother accepted to wait a while to see how things evolved. So, together with a good number of other cars we decided to park in line in front of the rock pile, waiting - like being at a drive-in with no movie on the show.
I think we waited almost an hour before our patience expired. It was still raining, and my clothes only slowly drying up by the heat from the car, I had no desire to try my luck, getting wet again. Several of the other cars had left too, and we then decided to cruise around through the back roads in the area. Sightseeing while deciding what to do. Eventually we ended up in Ebeltoft, and passing the local supermarket, we decided to do the shopping we were supposed to do anyway before we reached our destination in the afternoon. It still rained when we entered the store, and also when we came out. But to our big surprise it was clearing up in the distance. The light was much brighter in a northeast direction, looking almost perfect for a miracle to happen! We drove back to the rock pile, where other cars were still present. But even though the rain had now stopped, the bird had not appeared.
Too much to hope for after all. I was sure it had left, or something else had happened to it. A car with two persons was parked right in front of the rock pile, whereas the rest of us were standing a hundred yards away on the other side of the highway. At one point the two persons started to act as if they were observing something in direction of the pile, but since they didn't signal toward us, I concluded that it had to be something of minor interest. So I decided to circle around the area to get closer to some Corn Buntings I could hear in the distance. It's a very rare species on Amager, and each year a continuously more rare species on Sjælland in general, I think, and being a species I still haven't got a Danish photo of, I wanted to give them a try.
That, however, didn't turn out as successful as I hoped for. They were sitting in a cultivated field too far away to get good photos, so I circled my way back to the rock pile, now approaching it from behind, on the other side of the car parked in front of it. And as I did so, I got a feeling of a different level of attention from the other birders, and some of the other guys who had been waiting by the highway, had moved closer. Something was happening, for sure. The persons in the close-parked car now looked like a couple, and when the woman started to point her camera in a certain direction, I tried to follow it with my binoculars, hoping the view would reveal what I was looking for. And there, out of nowhere, or somewhere deep within the rock pile, the bird had emerged! Finally, and hallelujah! What a wonderful moment. I snug closer and during the next half hour got the photos you see here.
The bird was absolutely soaking wet to begin with, why it must have found a lousy place to rest during the rain. But as you can see, in the later photos it had already dried up significantly and started to forage on the ground when we decided to leave.
The next day it continued to rain in the area practically the whole day, and this was the last day the bird was seen!
Whether it had died or just left the area, we'll never know, but probably the latter, thinking it should be well-fed after having stayed in the same place for so long.
One or the other, I'm just glad that there's still time for miracles. Thank you!