2 Jul 2013

Lightning does strike twice.

The tweet from Ken Croft on Monday 1st July read something like ' on this day in 1988 a Bridled Tern was found at Cemlyn Lagoon, Anglesey'. I missed this bird through a combination of work and family commitments and there's not been a twitchable one since!

That's the beauty of twitter - the news gets out instantaneously! The next thing I knew a tweet had alerted me to the fact a Bridled Tern had been found by Will Scott on Inner Farne - 25 years to the day of the Anglesey bird. Dave Steel, the NT Warden on the Farnes kept everyone updated and  I resolved to go in the morning on news if the bird was still there as the first scheduled boats didn't leave until 10 am.

So, blissfully unaware of the events unfolding, I went out to play golf with my beloved wife who, since I've become a bit more proficient and less of a danger to her and other players, deigned to take me to her club to play a few holes after tea. Leaving my phone in the car, all to painfully aware of the etiquette that must be followed in the most ancient of games, I unleashed the occasional scud and launched the occasional divot and proceeded to earn praise on how much I'd improved - especially as I beat her on the first hole.

With the evening sun fading we had a pint at the bar and watched a bit of the tennis before returning to the car. Checking my phone I had 20 missed calls!! Oh feck. First call was to Frank who'd obviously been trying to reach me with news relevant to the tern. As it happened Rich Bonser had arranged for a group of us to take the early boat from Seahouses at 6 am and Frank, good mate that he is, had put my name on the list!

Checking through the list of missed messages it became clear that whilst I was practicing my swing the Bridled Tern had been showing well throughout the evening and had gone to roost. By now it was 23.30 and I was meeting Frank at 02.30. Hardly worth going to bed but I retired to the spare room and read British Birds from cover to cover before it was time to leave.

Frank soon had us motoring through the interminable road works on the M62 - surely a money making exercise as why else would you have mile after mile of road works with no visible signs of activity -  and things were looking good. A quick check of the Sat Nav and panic set in. ETA 06.20. We weren't going to make it! Luckily Frank had a few more horse power  up his sleeve and we soon cut the deficit.

At 05.00 Dave Steel tweeted the unwelcome news the bird wasn't there and there were very few terns present in the roost. No worries, it'll be out fishing and will soon return. But its a pelagic species........Doubts began creeping in but, as promised, Dave tweeted an update at 05.30 with the news the bird was back and showing well and an elated duo screeched into the car park by the harbour to find the queue at the ticket office in full scrum mode.

An uneventful crossing on a flat calm sea and twenty minutes later we were disembarking as the wardens had decided we could all stand on the quay. Pointing us in  the right direction new slogged the 30 metres up the quay and there it was..............................................Only a fecking Bridled Tern!
My recent run of poor form was over.

I'd seen these recently in Bahrain but to see one in the UK was a terrific thrill. It flew round for an hour or so, occasionally disappearing, but easily located on call, before disappearing for ages. By this time the boat skipper wanted to get going so we reluctantly left and headed for home.

Not before papping a few of the other residents though and sticking a fiver in the collection bucket.

After a sterling bit of driving from Frank we were back home in Cheshire by midday!
The Farnes are an incredible place and as well as seeing so many seabirds and of course the star bird, it was good to catch up with my old University friend Graham Megson.


swamp said...

good to see you back on track after nothing about pacific swift & white-throated needletail (i know, you'd planned a trip to the hebs before the unfortunate news of its demise came through)!!! bridled tern at cresswell ponds today, making it a bit easier or folks...

Phil Woollen. said...

Certainly was. Business trip to Bahrain scuppered the pacific and as you correctly say we'd planned a trip for the Needletail.