Thursday, 14 February 2008

Bloody hot for February

On Sunday 10th, I was sat shivering outside McDonalds, St Andrew's Quay, Hull. In roared Mike & John, fellow Bfers. Our destination was Howden's Pullover (not a sweater shop) just south of Donna Nook, the 'wrong' side of the Humber. As we sped to Lincs across the Humber bridge a Cormorant passed us flying upriver and the sun was breaking on the horizon. It was going to be a good day.

Previously constued as a tickfest for all three of us the targets were R-C Pochard in Hull (later decided against as an escape), Glossy Ibis at Donna Nook, Richard's Pipit at Howden's Pullover, Cattle Egret somewhere I forget and lastly Great Grey Shrike and Hawfinch at Clumber Park. It all sounded so easy.

In Lincs we saw loads of Grey Partridges in the fields (and I mean loads)plus amorphous, distant white blobs which all turned out to be either plastic bags or Little Egrets. Velly nice. Once at Howden's Pullover we saw Skylark (including a couple that looked a lot like Woodlarks but we bottled it) Meadow Pipits, Reed Buntings and Stonechats it looked very promising. We rushed past the Richard's Pipit without clapping eyes on it to tick and run on the Ibis.

It was the usual story of you should have been here 5 minutes ago as it was making short flights. We stuck around for 3 hours walking the saltmarsh and nearly sinking across the freshmarsh. A Water Pipit and good views of Little Egret were our only reward. at 11.40 we decided we would head off at 12 if it hadn't shown by then. Straight away we see the Ibis fly from further north into the cattle field it had been in the week previous. All 3 of us got great views on the deck, a lifer for myself and John and a Uk tick for Mike, and we headed the mile back to the car toward the Richard's Pipit.

We got back to the field the pipit had been seen in when we were told the big lense brigade we passed had seen it fly into the freshmarsh behind (and neglected to mention it to us-bastards). We couldn't be arsed at this stage despite the fact all three of us needed it as a lifer. It was 16 degrees and sunny. I was cooking in my ski jacket and jumper combo and the others likewise. Feeding up was required.

After a stop at a service station (read as 1960s garage) we stuffed our lunch watching a Cattle Egret marching around a paddock in Linconshire. It looked most at home and we left soon after. A handy year tick for me. Off to Clumber Park. The only bird seen en route of note was a Common Buzzard sat in a field on the Lincs/ Notts border eating worms. Nice.

Got to clumber park at 3 with intentions of Hawfinch and Great Grey Shrike with the Shrike a lifer for Mike and Hawfinch for me and John. To say this part of the trip was unsuccessful was an understatement. It was warm, sunny and Sunday. Chave central. People everywhere. Not a Hawfinch insite. We followed the brief directions we had (near the chapel) and searched. Our inability to id a Hornbeam surely didnt help our quest but we ploughed on, slowly getting more and more frustrated. Seen were Treecreepers and Nuthatches but little else of note. Ruddy Duck on the lake was a year tick for me. Needless to say we saw nothing and we didnt even try for the shrike. Dismal. My advice if its a nice day, avoid the National Trust properties!

All in all a good day...except it transpired when we were packing up that I didnt have my camera. Actually my wifes camera. Actually my wifes schools camera. We turned the car upside down but nothing. Not good. Good news did follow as the pagers alerted John to a camera found at Donna Nook - I rang the number and it was mine. Im happy to report it is now sat in a sub Post Office in York waiting for collection. To whoever found it, Im most grateful and you seriously saved my skin.

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How brains and birds become mutually exclusive