Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Local birding: GGS and Iceland Gull - 20th Feb 2008.

Great Grey Shrike - Tockholes, Lancs - 19th Feb 2008

Fog was a major problem today in the upland areas of East Lancs around Blackburn. Indeed it was not until 13:00 when visibility finally improved enough to begin a meaningful search for the Tockholes Great Grey Shrike. The fog however did not deter John Metcalfe, who after dipping the bird on the 19th began his search at 07:30 in the freezing pea-souper.

I rejoined John in his search mid-pm after I had aborted earlier in the morning due to the weather.

By 16:00 it was looking grim, the murk was again descending and the light fading. John decided to head home at this point, and we recanted about the time during the early days of the Hollins Farm Great Grey Shrike when after four unsuccessful hours searching I met John, who was arriving to look for the Shrike just as I made my way from the site. My final words to him were " I wouldn't be best pleased if it appeared for you as soon as i left". Ten minutes later my mobile rang and I answered to the voice of a rather smug JM announcing that the Shrike was perched where I had been staring for four hours prior! Sods Law!

Back at Tockholes we joked as JM was leaving that I would deliberatley stay longer to get my revenge by locating the Shrike just after he had left.

At 16:10, during the umpteenth final scan with my bins before departing for Fishmoor Res, I noticed a distant bird perched atop a mature deciduous tree in the area of 'Piccadilly' on the OS Map. In the grim light and distance I could make out no colour or Shrike-like jizz but thought I would scope it. It was the Shrike and revenge was had on JM with an equally smug phonecall at which point John turned round only for the Shrike to disappear c1min before he arrived back.

I couldn't have written a better script!

We both searched until 16:50 when I left to dash to Fishmoor before it was too late, but not before I sent JM a final smug textmessage.

I arrived at Fishmoor at 17:05 and hurried onto the bank of Guide Res so I could scan both the roof and the water before the fading light went completely and was rewarded with a 2nd winter Iceland Gull on the water from 17:20-17:45.
2ndw Iceland Gull in near darkness - Fishmoor Res, Lancs - 20th Feb 2007.

My frantic checking of the Gulls was interrupted at 17:10 by a textmessage from a jubilant JM who had just ragged the Shrike by the skin of his teeth..... Damn!

Seriously though, after 9.5hrs searching for the Shrike, 6hrs of which was in freezing fog with very restricted visibility, John surely deserved it!... what a trooper!