Monday 25 February 2013

Back to Reality

Amazingly we didn't twitch the Harlequin Duck as well. News broke just as we were watching a pair of Golden Eagles drift across the Cairngorms. Naturally I was all for it, but it wasn't to be. When Bradders said we were heading back to London, and after I picked myself up off the floor having fainted, we pointed the car towards Fife and the ancestral home. I'm not scottish as far as I know, but my parents moved to Fife about ten years ago having quite correctly decided the south of england didn't represent value for money. Semi-moved I suppose, as there's a lot of time spent in Cambridge still. Happily for birders everywhere, or at least ones in the same car as me, there is now a nice pad to crash at en route to twitching-related activities in the far north. Having spent a night in a Travelodge, and then two nights in a miniscule cabin on the ferry, the prospect of a real bed and some home comforts was very welcome indeed. It's safe to say that never before has so much Chinese takeaway been eaten in my mum and dad's kitchen.....

After an evening spent consuming the whisky stash I had patiently accumulated up there, we woke up 'refreshed' and hit Largo Bay. This is a great spot for winter birding, and amongst all the sea duck a lone Surf Scoter was hiding somewhere. This took ages to pin down, mainly on account of it being practically off Leven, but luckily it's an adult drake so even at range the white blob on the back of the head enabled us to pick it out. I reckon I've ticked the same bird four or five times now! Great views of Velvets here as well, and of course Long-tailed Ducks and Mergs. All too soon though it was time to get back in the car and head for home. Our last birding act of a pretty fabulous four days was to score Black Grouse in the Pennines, first time I've seen them in England. We drove a shade under 1500 miles all told, saw just over 100 species, ticked Megafinch, and had a great time. Well done Team Grozzer! And thanks to Bradders Birding Tours for providing the twitchmobile and driving it.

Just so that those also driving the A1 southbound knew we were really really cool
Nick scanning for Coots
Meanwhile in Wanstead, the place I notionally live in and go birding at, the action has been pretty non-stop. Adrian's had Waxwing twice, and the day I got back Dan found four Goldeneye on Perch which is amazing. He is developing somewhat of a track record having found two last year - back then he enquired if this was normal, and so was surprised to cause a mass local twitch. Maybe he was right after all. Naturally I twitched them, and very nice they were too - three drakes and a female, as usual very skittish and they only stayed for the day. Despite Dan thinking they're actually common as muck, they're still a prized bird round here, and my list is very grateful. No time to take any decent photos, not that I would have stood much of a chance as I can only photography really tame and stupid stuff, but here is one for the record books.

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