Tuesday 12 May 2009

A tick and a dip

Latter-day Sisyphus that I am, I was just about to start on a mountain of domestic chores when the Black-winged Pratincole was refound at Grove Ferry. Charlotte was in the car quicker than she could say "Daddy, what about the vacuuming?". Having dipped the bird on Sunday at Reculver, and then having spent several hours at Grove Ferry yesterday in the vain hope that the bird might turn up, this was my third trip in three days. Naturally it was at the furthest point from the carpark, and I had badly misjudged the terrain. Totally unsuitable for a buggy, it contained several obstacles including two gates and a small bridge, so my thanks to the two selfless birders who delayed their fix by helping me lift it over. Eventually got to the hide, which was utterly packed, but a locally-based RSPB Information/Twitching Officer departed leaving a convenient hole, so Charlotte and I got in and got our tick, and she then got a scone as a reward whilst I grilled it and waited for it to show a bit of underwing.

On the way back to the car, disaster as my beloved cap is blown off my head and into a drainage ditch. Hmm, what to do? I know, I'll extend my tripod legs and just hook it out. Errr, it's being blown further away quite quickly, errr, ok better just see how far I can tread out, this bit of greenery looks suitable.....oh shit. Waist deep.

Utterly soaked, but triumphant with cap, I haul myself out. Transfer all critical things out of my trousers, like car keys, and assess the situation. I'm half a mile from the car, I am soaked from the waist down, my shoes have water in, and I have a buggy to push and carry over stuff. Excellent. I come to the rapid conclusion that there is nothing to assess and that I just have to get on with it. About halfway back I meet a sweaty wild-eyed Monkey, so desperate for his tick that he fails to even note that all is not well chez Lethbridge, and just pants for directions. In fact, not one birder I passed on the way back said anything about my state, and neither did anyone in the carpark as I stood in a small puddle and proceeded take my shoes, socks and trousers off. Perhaps this is all just acknowledged as normal behaviour for obsessive birders, and they have all been there at some point? So an unexpected and literal dip, but I decide that it was well worth it, and that in years to come I will be able to regale people with quite how stupid people like me can be in their quest for birds.

Drove back to London in my pants, barefoot.

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