Tuesday 24 August 2010

Patch Milestone

Cornwall was fairly gripping. I was out of mobile range for much of the time, and whenever I did momentarily get a signal, my phone was bombarded with a flurry of text messages. Most of them were from Wanstead, where the faithful were seemingly having a rather good weekend. Tree Pipits, Wheatears, Whinchats, Spotted Flycatchers and Redstarts were all on the menu, and languishing on 99, my Wanstead yearlist dearly needed the latter two.

Despite a marathon eight hour journey from Cornwall, including popping my offside front tyre on a sadistic and unnecessary curb, my first thoughts were to get out on the Flats to see if they were still there. I am ashamed to say I didn't even go home first.

Nick was still there, fiercely guarding the Hawthorn of Redstart happiness from all comers. I decided to have a quick look for the Spotted Flycatchers first, and was rewarded with two very close birds for a 2009-equalling 100 on the patch. Last year I didn't get there until December 22nd, so who knows where I'll end up. 101 perhaps?

I returned with my camera from the car, but the Flycatchers had relocated to a more distant area of bushes so I decided to concentrate on the Redstart instead. These are amongst my favourite of all birds, and seeing it was the work of moments. I stayed on one side of the bush, Nick walked towards the other side. He hadn't taken more than a few steps when a female-type Common Redstart hopped out into the low branches on my side. I whistled and gave the thumbs-up, Nick stopped, and the Redstart hopped back in. We had retreated and started chewing the fat when I noticed movement a bit further away. We moved round a bit for a better angle, and found a male Redstart sat low in some burnt brambles. Superb, and definitively 101.

I need to go back and re-read what my goals for 2010 were, but I think I'm right in saying that getting 100 on the patch was one of them, and possibly it was getting more than 100. Whichever, I'm an achiever, and anything else is a bonus. Osprey please.

Seeing as I'm done so early, I may add a late goal, which is to find an unfortunate photo of Bradders and post it up here in high-res. He has very cruelly taken advantage of my broken foot and associated reduced speed of camera-avoidance, and whilst on Blakeney Point a couple of weeks ago snapped me in a rather unflattering pose. I suppose I do need a haircut, but to compare me with a C-list celeb like Susan Boyle is most unkind, even if people do come up to me on Porthgwarra and ask how my toe is.

Kestrel hunting small mammals sheltering in my hair.

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