13 Apr 2009

An Easter treat.

After missing the Wirral White-throated Sparrow a few year a ago (I went to go Saturday morning but it buggered off over night) and the recent Helsby bird being suppressed until after it had gone this bird was beginning to bug me. News came out Saturday of a singing male present since November 2008 that had taken up residence in bushes along side the car park of an English Nature site at Old Winchester Hill, Hampshire. Unable to go Easter Sunday with Groucho and 'maggot dangler' Orton plans were hatched to go early this morning. Luckily for me my son woke me before the alarm and I left Cheshire at just after 02.45 and made good time arriving on site at 06.30 despite the fog! There were only 4- 5 birders there and the bird was already singing and showing partially obscured in the centre of a bush! What an easy twitch.

Paying heed to Marks advice I walked through the small gate and stood behind the bushes as I reasoned as more people arrived it would move away from the noise generated by the usual hordes with no fieldcraft who'd arrive as soon as the news was put out.

Joined by the methane propelled Shropshire dynamo's Big V and Stokesy the three of us stood and waited. I picked it up on call (after studying the calls on t'internet last night before retirng to bed) and suddenly it popped out in front of us. A magic moment- the fog and poor light didn't help photography but I rattled a few handheld shots off 'for the record'.

With the arrival of the chattering classes the bird went to ground and despite waiting another 1 1/2 hours we didn't see it again. I don't know why the news of this bird was suppressed for so long but feeling magnaminous after crippling views I didn't mind the voluntary warden who wandered round telling everyone he'd been watching it since 9th November. I sure if it hadn't been seen today he'd have probably got a kick in the nuts for rubbing it in.
Deciding to try and escape the worst of the Bank Holiday traffic I left and arrived home at 12.30 just in time for the news to come out of two Spoonbills at nearby Decca Pools. With David King ringing me to say they were still there it was time to take steps. Big ones. Grabbing Molly, my binoculars and the camera I headed off with the engine running on fumes after making it to Hampshire and back without topping up. Joining the CADOS crew we watched them feeding distantly whilst waiting for Mr C who'd once again braved the journey south down the A540 to his least favoured birding spot on the planet.

So what of the rest of the weekend? Saturday was spent on Hilbre for a high tide seawatch in the company of Mr Turner and family. With good visibility we were soon picking up good numbers of Little Gulls and Red-throated Divers whilst close scrutiny of the large movement of Common Scoter paid dividends when Mark picked out a Velvet Scoter. Another good Wirral bird. With a small passage of Swallows overhead it was fitting that the final bird found was the swallow of the sea's - Arctic Tern. We somehow managed to miss the 7 Eiders flying past the north end despite being there at the time!

Closer to home the Little-ringed Plovers are still present but, unlike at Gilroy, other migrants are still thin on the ground. The highlight on Friday evening was a flyover Osprey heading S West whilst all I could manage on Sunday afternoon was a single Yellowhammer.

Meanwhile the bird feeders continue to attract the local Bullfinches and a seemingly resident group of Siskins.

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