Black-throated Thrush at Sale Meadows on 24th November 1983 (a species new to Greater Manchester)
I had spent the afternoon carefully searching the rough grassland and marsh of Sale Meadows in the hope that the sudden change of weather from the clear, very frosty, days of late may have induced a few birds to be on the move. Despite the conditions and the slowly approaching murk of a wet November dusk I decided to make a final effort to go and search the edge of Sale Golf Course adjacent to the Meadows. From regular visits in previous years I knew that the birds often congregated there, gathering for roost in nearby scrub. Standing on the roadside, looking through the leafless hedge I could see an array of thrushes feeding on the rough-mown edge of the Course. I proceeded to go through them, mainly Redwing, until I came upon a bird, only 50 yards away, which was obviously not one of the common species. It had its back to me , standing in a fairly upright alert posture, size slightly smaller than Fieldfare. Before I had time to consider what it was, the bird turned to reveal it's black throat. I watched the bird down to 25 yards for over 1/2 hour and saw the following features:- Bill appeared dark, perhaps paler at base and very soiled from feeding. Upperparts fairly uniform darkish dull brown. Wings greyer, with primary edges giving a panel effect which stood out as distinctly grey, wing tips held slightly drooped. Tail dark dull brown, darker towards the tip. Chin and immediate area pale, whitish tinted straw colour, enclosed by black malar stripe. Throat very heavily marked black, sharply demarcated from dirty white unmarked lower breast. Underparts dull off-white with distinctly smoky flecks along flanks.
The bird fed in typical thrush fashion and was seen to eat two earthworms. It flew up into nearby scattered trees when disturbed, but soon flew back to resume feeding afterwards. At dusk a second observer saw the bird fly to roost in nearby bushes.
The next morning, despite the attentions of several bird-watchers the bird was not located- in fact the mix of thrushes seemed to have changed considerably from the previous day.
J. P. Shaughnessy
On the 30th of November 2006, Kevin McCabe was browsing the manchesterbirding.com website when he happened upon the above 'blast from the past' article, drawing his memory back to the fact that he was infact the second observer mentioned in J. P. Shaughnessy's account. Below are Kevin's recollections from that fortuitous day.
On the 24th of November 1983 I went to spend the day at Frodsham birdwatching, early afternoon I decided to leave and call at my parents house in Flixton (I was living in Mossley at the time). When going home from Flixton onto the M63 past Sale Water Park, I thought I would call in as I had never been there before (passed many times). Whilst parked up looking over the water for birds a chap came up to me and said he had found a Black-throated Thrush. We went back in my car to where he found the bird and it was still there along with mainly Redwings plus Fieldfares and Blackbirds. After a short while he went to contact others while I stayed with the bird, finally seeing it go to roost with the other thrushes. I took the day off from work and joined many others to relocate it, but not to be found, probably due to the clear night previously.
It was a case of being at the right place at the right time!