Friday, 10 October 2008

Toasted

Thats how I feel right now. Absolutely beat. News of an Empidonax flycatcher at Nanjizal had both myself and Marcus conway drooling. It was not a suite of birds that I knew well but i knew it was a first for Britain regardless. Me and Marcus on spec decided to go - neither of us had done a twitch quite like this before and it was crazy. A stopover at his house with a 6am set off was decided (if the first news was negative the next day we could turn round at Birmingham and have only dented pride!). As it was it was positive news and we became more and more excitable. Birds of note on the trip down were a shedload of Buzzards and plenty of Jays crossing the motorways. As we got into the southwest a few Ravens were noted loafing but we were keeping an eye on the state of play. No new megas as we had hoped in the area and little else of note. Nighthawk and Grey-cheeked Thrush had cleared out so we were left with only the target bird.

Cornwall arrived. Penzance went by and we hadnt heard any news since 10.30. It was 13.30 by now. We got on site at about 14:10 after a few minor cockups and motor down. There it was!!!!! Alder/Willow Flycatcher. We both had a good look and some record shots were taken (to be added asap). Oh and whats going on? theres ringers coming to catch it. The nets were set up round its favourite bush and it came lots closer to the assembled throng and showed a treat. A decent eye-ring was evident and me and Marcus bet a quid on its ID. I landed with Alder. Whoosh the bird shot back to the bush and the net as soon as the ringers retreated - this bet was gonna be settled quickly. After ten minutes or so the bird was released and whilst initially sitting down soon became visible again - no shrinking violet this one! And then the pagers go as one - ALDER FLYCATCHER - 1W MALE NANJIZAL. Oml!!! A quid better off we moved to go as the TV presenter tripped on his lines over and over trying to tell the general public about this transatlantic waif. Marcus high-fived and a funny call over a flyover passerine with the shout of Merlin had us all turning round. It was a Snow Bunting being pursued and it was very lucky. Escaped by very little climbing in tight circles keeping the falcon behind.

As weleft heard a juicy bit of gossip about the 'MEGA' that came out in the morning. Quote the random '...and he said theres the (Yellow-throated) Vireo! And I replied, "where in relation to the grey wag is that...'). Naughty.

We dashed to Porthgwarra (a mere mile away) to get one of Marcus's tarts & fill up on coffee/cornish pasty. I quickly pulled out a distant Balearic Shearwater. In reply he pulled out a very close bird and I got best ever views of this species and he got a self found tick. We bashed 60 foot cover (to no avail despite loads of squeeks and peeps) and had Peregrine float over us. At the watchpoint a Raven was very close dismembering a dead rabbit.

We decided that the trip to Yorks would be too much for us and we overnighted in Torquay. A flavoursome (msg??) Dopiaza was had plus a few jars with a stay in Torquay international hostel, at £12 a bargain. We settled happy bunnies. Alder flycatcher, eh?! The next day we were to catch up with some southern specialities.

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How brains and birds become mutually exclusive