4 May 2012

The lows and the highs

Imagine the scene. Sainsbury's with my beloved on a Thursday night. Buying food and a few beers for the Bank Holiday weekend. Next minute the phone goes and its Steve hammering up the M6 from Banbury. There's been a report of a possible Pratincole species at Burton Mere Wetlands. The keys are in the wife's purse. She's driving. Hoping the bird would get relocated the shopping was unpacked and dinner on the table when the phone goes again 'it is one, probably Black-winged' and its there now'. Dinner downed in 5 minutes and I'm out the house ringing for directions as leave. It turns out the best place to view is from the Welsh side so I duly set off for the Shotwick fields only to hear Allan & Frank have seen the bird fly past them heading south. Bollocks. I meet Frank leaving the site and he confirms its Black-winged.
Real scenes of anguish now as I'm joined by Steve. 24 years since the last Black-winged Pratincole at Inner Marsh Farm was suppressed from the masses. We scan the ploughed fields and marshy areas even using the roof rack of the Landrover as a viewing platform to get the height. A Great White Egret and Short-eared Owl are no consolation.

As darkness fell Steve picks out a bird hunkered down on the flooded fields. All we can see is its head and throat. It looks capped..... It's to dark and we can't make out anything else and anyway the bird flew south - the opposite direction to which we were looking.

Planning a dawn trip to Hilbre before work I was up early and out the house by 6.20 when Steve rings again. Colin Wells has relocated the bird. Hilbre's off and a quick mental analysis of the quickest way from A to B and I'm doing a U turn and heading towards Cheshire premier RSPB reserve.

Arriving in the car park at the same time as Steve (who unbelievably has made if from West Kirby in 20 minutes in a Picasso) and Barry we are only the only people there apart from Colin. Great joy as the bird is 'scoped on the ground about 1/2 mile away!  Steve & I both agreed it was the bird we'd seen in the twilight last night. Same capped appearance and same field! As more people arrived we waited for the bird to fly. The minutes ticked by and still we waited.......

Occasionally the bird moved a little and even ran around a bit - probably to get its circulation back. It's May and it was perishing. As the hours ticked by breakfast was a granola bar shared with Steve. I daren't move to get my coat or a hot drink from the reception centre as the camera was trained on the bird waiting for it to fly to confirm its identification as Black-winged and not Collared. Although we could see the wings were obviously longer than the tail.

As the crowd built up and the weather got a couple of degrees warmer the bird finally decided to fly and to much back slapping and shaking of hands the pain of 24 years was banished.......

Footnote: Just as you think it can't get better  the phone goes again. Teminck's Stint, Donkey Stand Flash, Parkgate. With an appointment at 17.00 I'm pushing it but I'm there and back in 50 minutes.

No comments :