Sunday 1 January 2017

Stow-on-the-Wold 31 December 2016

Given all the other recent accounts of trips by Oxon's keenest birders, it seemed high time that I also headed to Stow-on-the-Wold, although for me it was nearly an hour's drive away.

New Year's Eve dawned dull and overcast as predicted, but with none of the tiresome fog that had been so troublesome recently. Waiting for a positive report that the bird was still present, I wasn't on the road until about 10am. Driving north from Burford, I was dismayed to find the fog was still present on high ground - or was it simply low cloud?! As Stow is also elevated, sure enough it was a pretty dull and misty there as well. Dreadful light for photography!

Parking in the recommended pay & display car park I walked the short distance up to the Fisher Close area only to be told that the bird hadn't been seen since 9am - some two hours ago! Not good... But remarkably within less than five minutes, it was clear that it had been seen again as a large herd of birders rushed (stampeded?) into a small area of pathway, all peering over a high garden fence. Being tall on such occasions has its advantages, and even being right at the back, I eventually managed to work my way into a position to the view the bird - which was on the far side of a tree very much silhouetted against the leaden sky. In such conditions it was difficult to make out any blue at all and a hopeless photographic subject!

After a short while it dropped down into its favourite garden, and out of view. I then followed some others round to the other (lower) side of the houses, where the views were potentially better and there was a slightly larger grassy area. There then followed a considerable wait of around 1.5 hours during which time there was no sign of it. Two rather unfriendly residents even emerged with a couple of dogs from the adjacent garden and still nothing showed. Had it managed to fly off without being spotted? Fortunately not, as eventually there was a sudden movement and the top of the bird suddenly appeared on the adjacent fence!

Blue Rock Thrush taking a quick look at its admirers

However it clearly wasn't impressed by the horde of onlookers and beat a hasty retreat to a more distant bush, on the far side of the small garden. Here it was pretty obscured by branches, but by working my way into the far left hand corner of the viewing area I eventually managed to get a reasonably unobstructed view. But the conditions were truly dreadful for photography - the light was awful and the mist/fog was still present! Despite these challenges the new lens acquitted itself quite well, again.

Blue Rock Thrush looking left
Goto my website for a larger image

Clearly the bird was as unimpressed by the conditions as I was, and was remarkably inactive. It stayed put in this tree for a long time, with its only movement being to look left and then right and then back again. 

Blue Rock Thrush looking right!

After loads of shots, and little action, it seemed time to depart and try the nearby Union Street for the Waxwing(s) that had been seen there earlier today. Sure enough my luck was in, and I saw a bird or birds in flight, in the vicinity of a Rowan Tree that had a good crop of tempting berries. However it didn't seem settled, and I needed to get back. 


  1. great shots of it in the bush considering the awful light. best i could get were silouhettes, but later it appeared on the rooftops in better light. no luck with the waxwings though. re the unfriendly locals- it wasnt you leaning on his precious car was it? :)

    1. Thanks Al. No I wasn't leaning on his car, but didn't appreciate his comment about "gassing some of them"!

  2. omg. didnt hear that bit. lovely chap eh!!!!