Saturday 19 February 2011

Dove at first site

Hot on the heels of ticking the mega Slaty Backed Gull at Rainham Marshes on Wednesday, myself, Shaun and Hawky headed to Chipping Norton, Oxon, bright and early this morning hoping to add another mega to our lists, this time our quarry being the apparently long staying and recently refound Oriental Turtle Dove.

Arriving at about 7.30am we found ourselves at the end of a long queue (approx 200 yards), which started outside No 41 The Leys where for a few days now the bird had been frequently visiting the back garden. With the kind owner allowing birders in 10 at a time at the cost of £5pp (donated to the RSPB) we soon realised that unless the bird showed away from the garden we would be in for a potentially very long wait, in the rain.

An hour or so in, and with no news from the front whether the bird had been seen or not, things were not looking good! Then from our left, across the road a bird appeared, Hawky called it immediately. Luckily it flew to the rear of No 41 and rather than settle out of site, it sat at the top of a large tree in the back garden. 200 birders jumped out of the queue and blocked the street all trying to view the bird between the houses. Everyone got onto it although not the best views were had.

5 minutes later the bird flew to the lawn in the back garden of No 41 and the 1st 10 in the queue no doubt enjoyed cracking views. Just a few minutes later again it was off and appeared to make its way along the back gardens. Despite searching we couldn't re find it, however, someone else had, it had slipped past us to the other side of the road and was showing in a tree at the back of a private field. This time I was much nearer the front which was just as well as the viewing area was small. I had a quick peek at the bird through someones scope this time providing much better views of the smart bird. With desperate birders climbing fences and generally not behaving, I thought it best to move away.

Shaun, Hawky and I celebrated with high fives, and a cup of tea and slice of home made cake, being sold by some girls living in the street rather entrepreneurially (is that a word?) raising money for charity!

Two amazing bird in 4 days! Long may this run continue!

Thursday 17 February 2011

Slaty Backed Gull - Tick and Run!

When Dominic Mitchell found the Slaty Backed Gull at Rainham a few weeks back I decided to give the mega twitch a miss knowing it would be madness over at Rainham Marshes, and with over 1000 people dipping that day I wasn't wrong. Up until a week ago less than 40 people had connected with this mega rare bird, with it seemingly touring Essex and who knows where else. Then yesterday it was refound at Rainham and seemingly playing ball for a lot of the time. With news again today that it was showing on Wennington Marsh and the opportunity to get out of work early for once, I worked through lunch and left work at about 2pm. Via a train, bus and car I found myself at Rainham about an hour later, along with 50+ others.

The gull was viewable for about 30 minutes distantly, providing pretty good scope views, until a Peregrine flushed all the gulls and off they went, with the SBG flying strongly south east.

Gulls don't exactly rock my boat, but I am glad to get this mega rare one on my list.