Thursday, 25 November 2010

Come back all is forgiven!

Look who Jamie and I bumped into on Monday night in IKEA! Yes ex West Ham United manager, Gianfranco Zola! If only he was at the healm at West Ham now and not the clueless Avram Grant. Come on you irons - pull yourselves together and get out of this mess!

November in Nolfolk

Some pictures from our long weekend in north Norfolk, with our good friends Barry, Clare and Aimee. I promised Julia there would be no birding and by and large that was the way it went.

"Is that a Shore Lark?"
The three amigos

Ok, ok, had to get some pinkees in somewhere

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Dirty Twitching - Pied Billed Grebe

It really was a case of tick and run this morning for me and Jono as we made the long trip north for yet another yankee mega. I picked Jono up at 5.30am, arriving in the frozen north some 3.5 hours later. Luckily the bird was easy to locate and showed well, down to 15 feet for a few seconds, allowing some good photo opportunities (life tick #385). Unfortunately with Jono needing to be home by mid afternoon there was no time for any birding and we hit the road again to head home. This is certainly not ideal, but in this case needs must, as I would not have been able to get up there for at least 2 weeks after today.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Flushed with success - please note no American Bitterns were hurt in the production of this story

Ok, ok, technically the bird was flushed. Big deal. If you were there and objected fine, but just in case you weren't let's get some facts straight. One birder walked along a fence line, slowly, quietly and carefully. That's it. There was no line of people sweeping the field, no kicking of bushes or other disturbance of any kind.

100+ birders had waited patiently on the road side for over 3 hours, and in my case for the 2nd time in 2 days for a glimpse of this yankee mega and in my opinion the end justified the means. I didn't see many people there objecting at the time.

I headed down to Cornwall with my son Jamie (10), my non birding friend, Ray, and his son's Matt (12) and Adam (10). Matt is a keen birder just getting into the hobby so a lads and Dads weekend away/twitch to Cornwall must have been very exciting for him.

Jamie and Adam - enjoying lunch at St Agnes beach

A 5am start saw us make good time and we arrived in Zennor, 360 miles and around 4.5 hours later. The bird had flown to some pines about a quarter of a mile away after being harassed by a Peregrine. Was it still ok? Well, almost 3 hours later I was none the wiser as there was no further sign. With the boys getting a bit bored I decided to let them run off some steam so we headed to St Agnes to run around on the beach. A school boy error.

As we arrived in St Agnes just 30 minutes later I got a text from Bradders Jnr informing me the bird had been seen again flying over the pools (where I had been standing) and off into the distance and out of sight! Nooooooo!

After a couple of hours on the beach we headed back. The weather had turned and it was raining heavily. Another 2 hours were spent unsuccessfully up on common. Jono, Bradders Jnr, Dick and Nick arrived late afternoon, to be on site for first light. Tail between my legs we headed to the digs, arranging to meet up at 6am for another bash.

6am came and Matt and I joined the lads, and 120+ other birders in position back up on the common. nb - when I say on the common I mean on the side of the road, on the right side of the fence!

Jono, 5 minutes before seeing the bird

A cold, damp and hungry 3 hours passed before, to be honest much to our surprise, there it was. We were pretty much convinced it had gone. Therefore when Mr Bloggs asked if we minded if he carefully walked the fence line, of course we didn't, and the rest is history. American Bittern on my list (life tick #384). Unfortunately Matt had left just 30 minutes earlier. I didn't blame him. I was tempted but had to stick it out.

Crap pic, as enjoying the flight views in the bins before grabbing the camera at the last minute as it disappeared into the pines

Ray, Adam, Jamie and Matt, full of breakfast picked me up and we headed off to another beach to run around for a bit. It was still only 11am so we decided to head to the Lost Gardens of Heligan near St Austell to try and see our another American mega, Green Heron. I saw the Kent bird not long ago but was happy to see another, and we couldn't have Matt coming away with nothing when he could have got 2 yankee megas on his first ever twitch.

The weather turned far worse as we arrived. We walked in torrential rain for 30 minutes trying to find the bird after being told to go to the wrong place by some birders, and arrived soaked to the skin. Half decent scope and flight views were had but to be honest we were so wet through it spoilt it a bit. The bird was too far for decent photos and I just wanted to get back to the warmth of the car. A mega for Matt though! See here for decent photos:, or

"Yeees, I've seen a Green Heron!"

The journey home was much more stop start taking about 6 hours eventually arriving home, tired but happy around 8.15pm. I couldn't do too many twitches like that a year.

Thanks to Ray for driving and congrats to Matt on his first mega!