Saturday 5 June 2010

7 Days, 1500 miles

I feel horrible, unclean. Whereas May was a damp squib as far as rarities go, June has thus far been sensational. The downside is that I appear to have spent most of the month in the car.

So, you know about the (sodding) Little Bittern, and you know about the mad dash up to Norfolk for the Trumpeter Finch. What you may not know is that my car has basically repeated both of those journeys in the last two days. Twitching = madness.

At a loose end on Friday, it was my firm intention to go and find Adonis Blue Butterflies on some hill in Surrey. As I drove around the M25, the pager kept telling me about a Marmora's Warbler showing well in Gwent. Showing Well. The plan had been to go with the boys at the weekend, five up, save money on fuel and have a great day out. But it was showing well. Still showing well. Aarrrgh!

I cracked, drove past the Butterflies, out to the M4, over the Severn Bridge again, and onwards to Gwent, arriving a mere matter of minutes later (about 180). A glorious day on the Brecon Beacons, and the bird did indeed show well, but I couldn't help but wonder why I had just burned all that money on fuel when I could have waited an extra day and still seen it. Turns out there was a good reason.

Today, Saturday, whilst the boys were on the M4, news of four Black-winged Stilts at Titchwell came out. Difficult to twitch from the back seat of a Subaru heading west on the M4, my cunning plan of going to Gwent yesterday had paid off, and I was able to spend another happy four hours driving up and down the same road to Norfolk that I driven up and down earlier in the week. Genius. But Black-winged Stilt was one of my top targets, and having been away for every convenient bird over the last few years, including the one at Rainham in April, I was not going to miss these ones.

I didn't miss them, and in fact four had turned into five by the time I got there. Yet another meaningless UK tick, splendid. I took Muffin, and bar missing a Gull-billed Tern at Titchwell by about half an hour, we had a great day. I was a proud dad today. I let him have the scope, and he found his own Marsh Harrier in a tree, and then two Little Gulls on the scrape. Called them totally confidently, no help required. A standard Titchwell visitor sidled up to me and asked where the Little Gull was, he couldn't bring himself to ask a six year old for help. I wish now that I'd said I didn't know what they looked like either and to ask my son; an opportunity missed.

Back home now after 1500 miles, almost half of them solo. Ouch. Poorer in some ways, but richer in others....

This was in the garden the other day. Tomorrow, I'll be there too. Unless a Roller turns up.

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