9 Jun 2022

9 Jun 22 - #30DaysWild Day 9 - A Purbeck Rose-coloured Starling

I said in the previous Blog Post I was glad I only had two full days in Ireland & hadn’t stayed longer. That wasn't a reflection on the Irish Birding, but was related to breaking news in Dorset. This year I am trying to see 200 species in the historic Isle of Purbeck. To my knowledge the record is the 191 species I saw last year, when I was impacted by lockdown rules and work. This year neither are a problem following my decision last Christmas not to extend my contract with the company I was working for & to take early retirement.

Earlier in the morning, I had returned on the Irish Ferries crossing from Rosslare to Pembroke & was driving home. As I got close to Shaftesbury, I had a call from my friend & local Birder, Phyl England, asking what I knew about a Rose-coloured Starling photo that had appeared on a local Swanage Facebook group. I had heard nothing & do not have a Facebook account. All Phyl knew was it had been posted for identification of an odd bird taken that morning & it had identified it as an adult Rose-coloured Starling. There was no location posted. Phyl's friend who had spotted the original sighting was asking for a location. This immediately prompted a response of "don't say as hundreds of people will descend on your house" from somebody else in the group. In this case, it was an uneducated statement from a member of the public who had no knowledge of the status of Rose-coloured Starlings in the UK. The reality is a few locals will be keen to see it, but while it is a good bird for Swanage & the Isle of Purbeck, there are several records every year these days on Portland.

I was over an hour away from Swanage, so all I could do was ring a few locals to alert them & hope some more details emerged. Phyl was quickly back on the phone with a street location. I mentioned that to one of the Swanage Birders, Rob & he said that street name was familiar, but he couldn't place it. His wife said it was the street their daughter lived in. A typical Birder, who could remember locations of good birds with ease, but not close family. Rob rang his daughter & was given a description of the funny pink & black bird they had seen in their garden that morning, that she hadn't thought to ring her dad about. I was now half an hour away. Rob headed off to look for it.

By the time I arrived, he had been joined by locals Phyl, James & Garry and they had found a good viewing spot. A few minutes later, it was spooked & flew up to the tops of some local Leylandii, before dropping back into the gardens & out of sight. In the course of about 75 minutes, it had gone from a probable Rose-coloured Starling somewhere in the Swanage area to me having got to Swanage & seen it. It's great when one of these vague reports quickly drops into place. My first pink Rose-coloured Starling in the Isle of Purbeck, although I have found a couple of late Autumn juveniles locally.
Rose-coloured Starling: Adult. Been wanting to see an adult locally for a number of years
Rose-coloured Starling: Adult. A brief appearance on this roof before dropping back into the gardens. I didn't see it again that evening & the Starling flock appeared to head off to roost soon after