1 Jan 2015

January 1st 2015 & some Bustards ruined my lie in!

We had a family outing to N Wales hiking the highest peak in the Clwydian Range in the snow planned New Years Eve and news the previous day of a Little Bustard seen in flight in Kent was forgotten as the icy conditions meant concentration on where you put your feet was more important than mulling over a missing Bustard. With Black Grouse, Crossbill & Raven to keep the birding side of my brain occupied I completely missed the message from RBA about a Little Bustard in Yorks. Poor reception had a lot to do with it and it was only when Al Orton rang me as we neared the top of Moel Famau that I began to get a bit twitchy. News that Frank & Groucho were on their way after fortuitously being side by side searching for a dodgy duck on a dodgy sand quarry was a tad depressing especially as it transpired this Bustard wasn't just a flyby and had been relocated! 

Al was going New Years Day for first light but with a family New Years Eve party planned at a local hotel planned I wasn't going to make it. Unless........ Finishing the hike and starting the descent a plan started formulating itself in my frozen brain. What if I went to the party and Al picked me up from home as I knew I wouldn't be safe driving to his place........

A few texts and a couple of calls later it was arranged and so it transpired I got in around 01.30 and got changed out of my posh threads and into my more regular scruffs and settled on the couch to try and grab a bit of rest. No chance! By 05.00 I was making a brew and preparing for the big day. The bird had appeared to roost in its favoured kale field and with Bustards being day migrants we were confident!

Malc had joined us from  a holiday in Anglesey so three of Cheshires finest set off at 05.30 am NEW YEARS DAY 😶 for the village of Fraisthorpe!

An uneventful journey followed during which I may or may not have nodded off or sobered up. Arriving at 08.00 and following instructions to park in the village we set off just as dawn was breaking for the 1 mile walk to the field to find several hundred birders already there. The bird was still there and thanks to Alex Jones letting me view through his scope I got on it straight away.

Finding a spot crouched down out of the wind I soon had my scope on it. Initially only a head was visible but as it got lighter the bird started moving a bit more and revealed more of itself. Unfortunately, even though I'd brought my iPhone adaptor I'd brought the wrong attachment for the scope. Cursing I tried to hold the phone against the eyepiece hoping to get a usable record shot.

It was great to see so many familiar faces from trips to Shetland. A great day out and we were home by 12.30.

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