Monday 3 August 2009

Dip Dip Hooray

Yesterday morning at 7.20am I somehow found myself walking along the path at Kelling hoping I was about to see a Great Spotted Cuckoo for the 3rd time in 9 days. I had about 3 hours sleep Friday night whilst camping with Jamie at the scouting Dads and lads night and could really have done without another 4.30am alarm call. Amazingly as per usual with an early start for a twitch I still managed to wake up before the alarm went off. My wife Julia was not overly impressed that yet again I was disrupting our weekend plans for a twitch so I promised to be back around lunch time to at least salvage some sort of family life in the afternoon.

This time fellow dipper from last week Shaun drove, which was a shame really as I was hoping to test my theory that my car would be able to find its own way there . Very helpfully the M25 was shut and we had to take a cross country route via Chelmsford to join the M11 at Stanstead. Luckily Shaun managed to make up time with some top level rally driving.

Anyway, back to Kelling. As we pulled into the car park two birders were driving out. Surely this was a good sign. They wouldn't be leaving unless they had seen it? Then I remembered how confident I was 9 day ago as I walked with Jamie from the car at Salthouse, big grin on my face, just for it all to be dashed as we missed it by seconds. All of a sudden I had convinced myself it would all go wrong again .

The long walk along the path to the beach seemed to go on forever. No other birders were seen. Ah, another good sign, they must all be looking at the bird, or, oh no, looking for the bird. I bet it's disappeared again, I convinced myself.

Eventually we reached a surprisingly small gathering of half a dozen birders to be told the good news that the cuckoo had been showing well and had just dropped out of sight from a bush about 75 yards ahead of us, and not to worry it will soon be back. Not to worry! Are they mental? Anyway, our confident new birder friends were right and after just a few anxious minutes a Great Spotted Cuckoo (life tick 353) was back sitting up nicely in the bush in front of us. Yes! We watched it on and off for around 30 minutes at times down to 50 yards. Unfortunately it did not sit still for long enough to allow any decent digiscoped shots so my blog still remains photo-less. Shame, but I didn't care, we had seen the bird and were both very happy and relieved.

With cuckoo ticked, bagged etc by 8am this allowed us the luxury of a long route home via Breydon for a quick go at the now Pacific Golden Plover. Surely it wasn't going to be a 2 tick morning!

An hour or so later we pulled into the Asda car park and headed the short distance to a group of 20+ birders all staring at the same patch of undergrowth where we were reliably told they had seen the PGP disappear into an hour ago. Checking the time I had no more than 45 minutes before we had to leave. After 45 minutes of fruitless checking it was time to go, ploverless.

A painfully slow 2.5 hour journey home down the A12 was interrupted by a call from Bradders Jnr to inform us the PGP had reappeared not where we were looking but approximately 1/2 a mile further around the path and exactly where the said Mr B had said it would be. Due to my tight timescale I just didn't have the time to search properly but to be honest as much as I would have loved my 2nd lifer in 3 hours I was just so pleased to have seen the cuckoo (at last) that the plover would just have to live to see another twitch.

I don't think I'll be rushing back up to Breydon in a hurry. It's a real pain in the backside of a drive and it's not exactly the most scenic of spots.

What odds that if it is there next week, that I'll be there too!

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