Sunday, 13 November 2011

Greyer and Greater

Never fear. No fantasmagorical shots of our American Idols from me. Just a tale. The Bullfinch is the only shot I've taken this weekend worth blogging but you can suffer some more if you wish. Try this for a taste of what I wanted.

Saturday morning was sunny and clear. Perfect for photographing Great Grey Shrikes atop small bushes. I wandered down the road counting birds, lots of Fieldfare, chatting to folk and directing them to the likely spot. Just after nine the bird who appears to have a routine starting at that time appeared near the goats and then promptly disapperard only to do the same thing twice more before 10.30 when I headed homeward.
A minor twitch had developed but nothing like what I was to encounter later. Got home and the triple exclamation mark followed by the three words Greater Yellowlegs Northumberland meant my afternoon trip up the coast was going to be more interesting than usual. Of course I'd wasted half the day already and the bird was likely on its way to Norfolk by now. Arrived at East Chev and met GB who informed me the bird had flown off but that it had done the same thing twice already and returned. I parked at the end of a long line of cars and walked the remaining 'mile' to the 'hide'. Nice to see 70-100 folk in green all standing outside the hide with scopes all trained. Should give some interesting ammunition to the debate on Turd Forum regarding the merit or otherwise of the metal noise machine. I would have got a picture but didn't have a wide angled lens with me.

We waited and chatted, ticking off bloggers, birders, photographers, pals and those for whom I had donned camouflage gear specially to avoid. A bittern flew. I missed it. A nice Short eared Owl gave a view I can get from my back window at home (I know, I'm totally spoilt). Pintails were nice if distant and I never did find the White fronts. Two hours later no GYL but severe back ache. A mate headed off to Hauxley for a reported Grey Phalarope but I decided to stay put for a while then returned to the car and joined BB, RD, ASJ and John on the upper viewpoint and we watched as a murmeration of Starlings grew and grew. Discussion ensued on the numbers involved on which more later.

Then as the birds ducked and dived thirty or more birders ran up the path from the hide to their cars. The special bird was at Hauxley. Bugger. I had the choice and decided the Starlings were more interesting than tearing up for a view of a Greenshank like bird in the dark.

Sunday morning dawned grey and dank but a quick check said the bird was still about so bearing in mind the weather I doubted the bird would move so did a fruitless hour on the Carr looking for the Shrike then headed north. I had a job to look at in Cramlington anyway which is halfway there NOT. Arrived at Hauxley, parked at the south end to avoid the crowds and visited my usual vantage point the Ponteland hide. Very quiet, nobody in site although all the gates and hide windows were open. Off up to the tern hide from whence said bird had been seen early morning. It was clear on entry that it wasn't about. Oh its walked off down to the south pool. Double bugger
Using all my field craft I determined the bird was in sight from the wader hide (everybody was hanging out the windows), then it wasn't (birders looking at nothing in particular) then that it had been found (birders leaving hide rapidly and heading south). Should I? Of course back to the Ponteland hide which is unfortunately only big enough for six seated and six standing assuming the participants are neither fat nor stinky. Being both the aforementioned I set up the scope at the outfall and there on the opposite bank were Grey Phalarope, Redshank (for comparison purposes although a Greenshank would have been better) and Greater Yellowlegs.
Job done. Beat that for a record shot!

1 comment:

  1. Yes, your record shot definitely beats mine

    Didn't think I would finish the blog in one sitting and was debating saving it for reading on a beach hol ;=)