Where was I? Ah yes, whilst cleaning my boot off, the Yellow-browed perched up, and then zoomed off down the hedgeline. I was so distracted I failed miserably to get any shots of it at all, and so we left. We had superb pasties from McFadden's in St Just, but one quality butchers shop cannot make up for the wrongdoings of an entire people. Later on, at Church Cove on the Lizard (the current Green/ish Warbler site), a local birder all but told us to Fuck Off. Nice. Londoners may get a bad rap, but let me tell you, when (or more likely if) anyone comes to visit my patch, or I encounter a visitor to one of the other local sites I bird, they'd get a stack load of useful info and help from me, and likewise from everyone else I know. As far as I can tell, the Cornish would ideally like you to drive to the Devon border, throw all your money in a westerly direction, and then turn around again and sod off back to wherever you came from. I am not impressed. No doubt there are some nice ones, but I'm increasingly irascible, and in a tarring kind of mood. They are, to a man, miserable bastards.
Anyway, to the detour. Bradders and I had thankfully left Cornwall and had arrived in Devon where we called a halt to birding proceedings. I like Devon, and in particular I like the Oxenham Arms in South Zeal. Back at the soul-less Travelodge near Okehampton, content, full of steak and beer (and probably still some pasty), I was tucked up in bed thinking warm thoughts about returning to the bosom of my family the following afternoon, when the pager made the noise I had been dreading all day. The MEGA alert noise. Like the horrible screech of a harpy. "Check the pager! Check the pager!" came DB's excited shout from bathroom. I did, hoping beyond hope it was something he had seen before, and was on St Kilda. No such luck. South Shields, Tyneside, and an Eastern Crowed Warbler, a first for Britain. Nooooooooo!
Attempting to persuade Bradders that we should just go home would have been about as likely to succeed as persuading a Cornish dog-owner to carry a selection of small plastic bags around, so I didn't fight it. Although the mere thought of twitching the Northeast from the Southwest filled me with horror, the alarm was duly set for 4:45am. We were in the car by 5, and only six and a bit bottom-numbing hours later we were there!
The bird showed well, and I suppose it was pretty exciting being in on a first for Britain, but I actually wanted to be at home. I wonder if Mrs L will read this? Hope so. Anyhow, there were a lot of people there, and a festive atmosphere prevailed, despite the fact that many of those present had severe colds and coughs, or had suffered various debilitating accidents the previous evening. But we all saw it, and a little beauty it was too. Writing this, over a week later, I'm really glad I went and that I saw it, but at the time, twitching South Shields from west of Exeter seemed like lunacy - 700 miles and thirteen hours in the car for a small stripey bird? Nah, no thanks! Still, on the list as they say, and I may yet drop the charges of unlawful imprisonment.
No I didn't get a picture of it