20 Sep 2011

Yankeed Doodle that'll be dandy. Part 2.

Three o'clock in the morning in Hayle. Its pitch black and raining. Groucho can't sleep cos he's got bad guts so for the next two hours he's in the bathroom. Bollocks. So much for some sleep. Eventually deciding we might as well check the estuary at first light we departed and met up with Al & Malc who'd travelled overnight. With the weather pretty miserable and the rumour that Air Bus might be operating earlier flights we head off to Lands End airport only for the weather to close in and all planes to be grounded. Bollocks again. News that the Solitary and the B & W Warbler were both still present fuelled our frustration and the only way to overcome the boredom was settle for a massive fry-up Hilbre style.

A weather window allowed us to take off at 11.45 - nearly 2 1/4 hours later than expected. Hopefully we'd have time to see everything.

Arriving at St Mary's airfield we legged it down to Lower Moors where Dan & Ash were waiting. Within minutes we'd seen the Black and white Warbler doing its best impression of a clockwork humbug above our heads in the canopy. What a little beauty.

Suddenly pandemonium broke as the news spread that the Northern Water Thrush had just been seen and people rushed round like headless chickens crashing through the muddy swamp looking for the bird or at least someone who knew where it had been seen. With the Solitary Sandpiper having made one of its increasingly regularr disappearing acts from Newford Duckpond things were beginning to look a bit gloomy.

With so many people it was unlikely the Water Thrush was going to show so we decided to walk up to Newford Duckpond on the off chance it may return. Despondency - it wasn't there although we did get Beeeater on the way up and the juvenile Blue-winged teal that had turned up as a bonus showed ridiculously well.

Meeting Martin Goodey he told us that the Solitary had been relocated on  the 'Project Pool' a private site behind the dump in the middle of a reed bed. If we wanted access we should ask Higgo. Jumping in a taxi with Andy Vinson we bumped into John clipping a hedge. Screeching to a halt his first words were 'I suppose you want access to my hide to see the Solitary'. Promising free beer tokens next time we saw him we were given the directions - 'look for the glove stuck on a branch then look for the plastic bag wrapped round a tree and follow the path through the reed bed to the hide'. Top man our John.

Impeccable directions but what a hide! Resembling a 1st World War trench it was so low you had to crawl in on hands and knees - complete with biting insects old mattresses and plywood walls heaped up with dank earth.

All thoughts of ticks, lice and fleas were forgotten when Chris Griffin spotted the Solitary Sandpiper within 3 metres of us in the bright sunlight (by now the front had moved through and we were all in T shirts so fickle is the British weather!). My second 'lifer' of the day.

With time ticking away we decided to try once more for the Water Thrush and joined Alistair & Malc who'd remained rooted in the same spot for 3 1/2 hours with not even a sniff. The bird hadn't been seen since the only sighting. The Black & White Warbler showed again really well to an appreciative audience of 4 until it was time to head to the airport and check in. Unfortunately, despite the earlier delays, Lands End airport had caught up with the backlog and our plane out of the Scilly's was on time. Bugger. As we took off the four Buff-breasted Sandpipers present on the airfield flew alongside us

As you might guess the Water Thrush showed after we'd left. But 'c'est la vie' with two lifers  I couldn't really complain.

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