9 Nov 2015

Crag Martin

Crag Martin is an extremely rare bird in the UK with less than 10 accepted UK records. Most have been one day birds seen by a few lucky local observers. The last twitchable one was at Flamborough Head in 2014. That one stayed a couple of days but I was in Australia.

When news broke on Sunday of one in the centre of Chesterfield only a county away in Derbyshire I didn't hear about it until late on as I'd left my phone in the house whilst working in the garden raking up leaves. A second message came out around 13.30 and I decided to head across towards Stockport and wait and see what materialised. The last news was that the bird had flown off N W and I figured it might end up at Audenshaw reservoir...................................fat chance and with the weather closing in I took the decision to head for home. A wise move as news came out that there was no further sign of the Crag Martin until dusk. That was that or so I thought but I had a lingering suspicion the poor weather meant it wouldn't have got far and would probably get relocated in the morning so I came to work prepared with binoculars and camera. Sure enough I'd hardly walked through the office door and made myself a brew before the news came out is was back flying around the crooked spire of Chesterfields famous parish church.

The weather was appalling and it seemed highly likely the bird was going to hang around at least until the rain cleared so after changing a few work commitments I set off for Chesterfield firstly passing through Stockport and then over the peaks and down into a car park directly below the church. As soon as I got out the car I could see the bird flying around the spire but by the time I'd   grabbed my binoculars it had gone again! After 30 minutes of getting wet through I decided to go back to the car and get my coat on - just as the bird reappeared. This time it hung around for 40 minutes and I enjoyed the surreal experience of watching an ultra-rare Mediterranean vagrant flying around a wet and windy Derbyshire church spire from a public car park!

The conditions for photography weren't good and I settled for a few record shots.

With news that a quorum of the Hilbre Bird Obs committee were on their way I hung around until they arrived before setting off back to the office.

The famous twisted spire of St Mary's church. Apparently the wood used for the spire was still 'green' and the whole thing twisted as the timbers dried out.+

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