Waking at 5am and eventually, after several spells of nodding back off, getting out at 6:30 the conditions looked the stuff of birding dreams - at least they would at one of the East Coast spots; low cloud, rain and a light easterly wind.
No birders present with just a dog walker for company (more on him later) I picked up 3 Common Scoters (2 drakes and a female type) immediately - things were looking promising. I walked along the eastern edge that still, despite the previous nights torrential rain, had a decent muddy edge. As usual I'd opted to leave the scope in the car, I find without it I look more intensely, and scanned through the ducks and gulls. A small arrival of Teal and 4 Wigeon were another indication that things were moving and as I scanned the southern section of the largest lake I picked up a small dark "gull" sat on the water away from the other gulls. A voice in my head said "shit Skua!" whilst another said "don't be daft." Fortunately I listened to the former and made my way closer.
|This was pretty much what my initial view looked like.|
Calls to Roy and Andy were greeted by answerphone messages and I settled on getting as many photos, albeit very shakey, as I could. Fortunately Andy called me back and gave me a few pointers. At this point the Skua started preening revealing the lovely black and white barred undertail coverts of a Long-tailed Skua, I was, by now, 95% certain that that was what this was. Unfortunately for Andy and anyone else wanting to see it the aforementioned dog walker appeared at the waters edge with a bloody great stick. As he raised the stick the gulls on the shoreline got up and took the skua with them. As it drifted south out of site the sickening feeling came over me that I might have to let this one go, though thankfully I'd managed a handful of flight shots that fortunately helped clinch the identification. Being the techno geek that I am I managed to transfer the shots to my tablet and post them on Twitter and await the response - and more importantly see if I'd cocked up or not. Thankfully Andy sent me a screenshot from the Collins guide which confirmed my suspicions and the rest just like the bird is history..
|Note twat with dog and stick|
It probably took me an hour or so to calm down after this and with the conditions still good I set about doing another circuit which sure enough paid off with Turnstone, Grey Plover and Whinchat and later Greenshank and a Little Egret.
Another truly spectacular patch day and a species that I never imagined seeing locally. Many thanks to Andy for his assistance at the other end of the phone.
|A couple of Clouded Yellows whilst failing to find any scarce passerines.|