24 Oct 2009

Eastern-crowned Warbler.

They came from far afield, weapons of choice jangling in the crisp air of an October morning. Slowly they shuffled into position, minds in turmoil, fearing the worst  and waited......................That familiar knot in the stomach as the gloom gave way to dawn on the east coast.  A rag tag army of vastly different ages, sizes, shapes and expereince. Would their quarry still be there? Would they see it? How would they explain to their boss why they weren't at their desks? Umm - what were the identifying features again? What was it called? Anyone see it yet? What was that?. Oh shit, I think that was it'. 'Whose on it?' 'What tree - they're all friggin sycamores with dead leaves'. 'Turn that phone off'.

The story starts on Thursday night when the pager blasted out its mega alert tone- Eastern-crowned Warbler, South Shields. WTF? Apparently initially identified as a Yellow-browed Warbler it was correctly identifed from photo's. Part of me wished the bird would disppear overnight as rearranging my Friday work load was going to be difficult.

Positive news at  first light Friday morning from the shuffling masses meant a rapid reappraisal of the in-tray and by midday we were off. Joined on the M56 by Podster &  Paul Derbyshire we made good time and arrived on site around 14.30 to find a crowd of around 160 well behaved birders peering into Trow Quarry. Expecting to be peering up into the tree tops we were pleasantly suprised to find oursleves looking down into the trees albeit distantly.

Not the best pictures in the World but they show all the relevant features! People had been predicting the arrival of this species to our shores and after poring over weather charts a 'big' bird had been predicted for this autumn. Pod had even commented that he hoped it was somewhere affordable and not on Shetland or the Scilly's. A two and a half hour drive was exactly right! With Allan, Frank & Kendo Nagasaki connecting just before we did and Malc travelling with Fred Fearn poor old Al Orton was left sweating on the Scilly's before reluctantly handing back his golf buggy and managing to grab an ealier flight. Luckily for him & Groucho it is still there this morning.


Jason said...

Nice one Phil. Slightly gripped off as you can probably understand but hopefully when these winds ease tomorrow we will have something better !! Bloody wishful thinking but you never know.

Phil Woollen. said...

Don't worry Jase. I'm sure the boot will be on the other foot before long!