The warmest evening of the year so far had me eager to get out. With a couple of Dotterel and the chance of a male Montagu's Harrier on the moors a change of location was on the cards.
Arriving at the picturesque location of Abney Moor we set out along the path in hope of finding the two Dotterel. The peace and tranquility of this site was just what I needed. Sadly it was soon shattered by a couple of arriving birders who could be heard approaching some five hundred metres away. One of which I managed to identify on call as the 'Mouth From The South'. The 'Mouth' soon caught up with us enquiring loudly if we knew where we were supposed to be looking! He and his sidekick soon overtook us constantly shouting to each other and now stomping around off path. We settled at the side of the path and scanned the surrounding area. Amusing myself with the 'Mouth's' complete lack of field craft we figured that sooner or later he would put them up.
At this point we were joined by another birder who I assumed had arrived with the 'Mouth'. However unlike the aforementioned and his mate he was well behaved, pleasant and quiet, a complete contrast in fact! Thankfully it transpired that he had arrived under his own steam - literally!
Chatting to this birder - who we will now call Gary (because that's his name) - I was fascinated to learn that for the last five months he had been embarking on the mammoth task of visiting every RSPB reserve and Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust site within the UK, whilst carrying out a year list challenge. What's that? Another sad LGRE style listing freak I hear you say? Well no, Gary is attempting this solely on his bike sleeping where ever he can, be it in his tent, reserve hide or the luxury of a friends spare bed. Gary isn't a super fit cyclist clad in shiny lycra, he honestly looks like a birder who's just nipped out for a spot of birding on his bike. This evening he'd cycled from Carsington and stopped off for the Dotterel en-route to the RSPB Saddleworth, I don't know how far that is but I do know that there's a hell of a lot of hills. Despite those hills he still walked around as though like me he'd just got out of the car. I liked Gary he was one of the nicest people that I've come across in a long time and added to this his determination to complete this challenge was amazing - he certainly didn't have those mad staring eyes that I've seen in the average year lister
Please take the time to look at Gary's Blog HERE and HERE and consider sponsoring him in his epic challenge I certainly will be.
Back at the Dotterel Gary, Jo and myself were watching the 'mouth' and his mate scouring the moorland with tact of a sex hungry bull elephant - when suddenly he screamed out that he'd got one of the birds. We wandered up the hill to find nothing except a Wheatear (hmm I wonder). The 'mouth' and his mate continued to engage each other in loud conversation when suddenly his mate shouted out that the birds were in flight - now there's a surprise! This presumed pair continued to gain height until they were just dots in the distance. They clearly had never experienced anything as loud as this before and had decided that they'd had enough.
We left Gary to pitch his tent and headed for the Monty's. A few birders were gathered there and it soon became apparent that it was a no show. After a few minutes we paid a visit to the nearby Strines Inn for two overpriced pints and a couple of gourmet bags of crisps ( I assume they must have been gourmet given that it came to £7.50!). We finished a great evening off with a couple of juv Long-eared Owls and several roding Woodcock.
TWO JUV LONG-EARED OWLS SHOWING WELL IN ALMOST TOTAL DARKNESS AT 6400 ISO (Apparently posting your photos with bold block type is the way forward!!)