Saturday, 31 March 2012


Where do I begin?...the text to Jimmy on Friday night, usual routine and about the extent of our planning. "Jim I'm going to try for the Yellowthroat in Wales tomorrow" Jimmy "what time are we leaving?" ME "5am" Jimmy " see you then"...that's how we operate...I tell him where we're going and he says great and off we go. So we set off for Gwent leaving Loughton at 5am for the 180 mile trip for this wee visitor from the states. We arrived at 7.30am and after asking a local dog walker for directions we were on our way up the hill. Once at the top of the hill we were greeted by three guys from Hull (they'd left home at 3am) They had seen the bird in question already but it was no longer in view. After half an hour of searching we relocated it and it showed really well (186) as we were joined by a couple from Oxford and a couple of guys from's the real deal this bird! After a couple of hours on the hill we headed back to the car for a coffee break and decided to try for the Lesser Scaup at Cosmerton Lake.
Lesser Scaup
We stopped on route at a local river and whilst walking the banks we saw a Grey Wagtail (187) my first of the year and I'm well pleased to finally nail this bird and only just in the first quarter.
Further on up the river Jimmy spots Dipper and we enjoy half an hour watching them flying from stone to stone. (188) Back to business and a 15 mile drive down to Cosmerton through Cardiff. We googled the post code on route (great planning I know) and surprisingly we found the lake without issue. On arrival we find that the bird hasn't been posted today in the visitor centre but we're not put off and head for the western lake. On arrival I immediately picked out a Scaup which we nailed down to the Lesser Scaup pictured above. (189) This is all too easy!...where to next Jim?....I know we'll try for the Long Billed Dowitchers at Meare Heath! I tap it in the sat nav OUCH we're 90 miles away. The day is going too well not to give it a after a quick coffee we were off back over the bridge into England and we flew down the M5 to Meare. Again we found the car park straight away and as we took to the path a local birder was returning to his car so we greeted him with that birders special "any sign?" "yes" he says....."they've been missing all day but just dropped back in" Wow..can our luck get any better? We walk the 800 yards to the drained lagoon where they've been seen and sure enough they're there right at the front of the mud bank with a few other waders (Ruff, Redshank, Godwits and Lapwings) Great little birds! (190)
Now the bad news...we have 190 mile drive home.....yep 190 miles! A stop to refuel at burger king Reading and we're home for 5ish just the 12 hours birding today but if that's what it takes to put five on the year list and THREE ON THE LIFE LIST then to coin a phrase......sometimes you just have to go the extra mile. Knackered now tho.
Record shot of Long-billed Dowitchers
Grey Heron
3 months down and I have 190 of my targetted 250 for 2012
60 TO GO.....looking forward to all the summer visitors landing in the next few weeks now.
Oh did I mention the Buzzard count reached 27 for the day!...throw in 4 Red Kites, a couple of Marsh Harriers, several Kestrel and a Sprawk and you have a pretty good raptor count too.

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