11 May 2008

Bird race weekend.

When Groucho Payne asked me to be in his team to provide a bit of opposition to Team Focalpoint I agreed on the condition if a 'mega' broke or if a good Cheshire bird broke we'd change the plans! Team Gary consisted of Mark, Jase Atkinson, Al orton & myslef and the name was derived from our nicknames - Groucho, Apprentice, Radar & YoYo.

This was our first attmept and we were up against the seasoned opposition and record holders Pod & Fred with fellow team members Malc 'the driver' Curtin and Paul B.

I was at Chester races Friday when news came through of a Whiskered tern at Inner Marsh Farm RSPB and again of a Honey Buzzard at Leasowe found by Al Conlin & Al Orton - the Happy Als! Oh well. Can't get them all! The tern flew off just after 20.00.........

After getting home at 01.00 and being picked up at 03.00 I was pretty tired but raring to go. Things started well for us in the Eastern Hills and we located all the key species. From there we intended going to Sandbach where we'd been informed a Wood Sandpiper & Garganey were present the previous night before slowly working our way along the M56 corrider to the Wirral ultimately ending up catching up with waders and sea birds as the tide came in.

All that rapidly changed when a text came through from Steve Williams at 06.45 to say the Whiskered Tern was still there. An immediate change of plan was in order - something we'd all previously agreed upon. This was to good a bird to miss. Alistair had dipped it the night before by minutes. Ineeded it for my Cheshire year list and it was a Cheshire lifer for Jason & Mark. Stopping brielfy at Sandbach we shot across to the Wirral and were duly rewarded with superb views of this, my fifth, Cheshire Whiskered Tern.

As a result we never made the pre-high tide wader movement as we retraced our steps back along the M56 to catch up with all the other species we'd bypassed. Still we had great fun and a good 'craic'. Our final score was 130 whilst the opposition scored 138. Worringly neither team saw or heard Cuckoo. We didn't get a single Grasshopper Warbler due to the timings of our visits to known sites following our detour.

However, a stewards enquiry is to be held over the lamping of Mandarin by the opposition. Surely this is against the rules.........................................

Many thanks go the following people who provided us with invaluable information and help on the day - Jan Jones, Al Conlin, Steve Williams, Frank Duff, Andy Forth and of course my fellow team members for providing such a good laugh.

As well as the Whiskered Tern the weekend also added Quail to my 2008 Cheshire list.

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