Saturday 7 December 2013

It never ends - Baikal Teal happiness!

I have well and truly got my twitching hat on at the moment, funny how it goes. Today's target was the Baikal Teal just north of Merseyside, and even though I was feeling somewhat less than 100% after a nasty (but fast-moving) cold I still felt up for it. Up for it enough that once again I planned to leave on no news - at this time of year there is no alternative when there is some distance involved. The bird has been around for nearly ten days now, and although initially dismissed as a hybrid on the first weekend, there may have been a two bird theory going on as it looks spot on. The storms in the week didn't push it off, so plans were made on Friday despite my ill health. Only Nick was up for it, with Bradders in Wales, Shaun not wanting to do the time in the car, Hawky surveying, and the Monkey suffering from a severe bout of oldwomanflu. Up at five am, on the road by half past, on site by half nine, the easiest drive you could imagine with a quality breakfast dirty twitcher's breakfast thrown in.

As we walked out along the sea wall we passed people coming back. Assuming it was therefore there we asked if they'd had good views, and were surprised when they said it hadn't been seen yet. Guess they must have been locals who had seen it already. We pressed on, and soon joined the long line of really cool people with scopes. As I extended my tripod legs somebody found it, and so fifteen minutes after arriving we were all done. It looks like the real deal as far I can gather from having looked at various images on line. No hint of any other species in it, no bling, fully winged, it can fly quite happily and nobody has yet claimed that they have lost one! Mega! Of course it's impossible to determine where it came from, whether it has jumped a fence or has instead arrived with a pile of eastern-based Wigeon, but I'm hopeful that it gets the benefit of the doubt. Let's face it, pretty much every Yank duck gets accepted in the same circumstances, so I've got a pretty good feeling about this one - I wouldn't have clocked up nearly 500 miles had I not, and in fact I've taken the liberty of whacking it on my list already. I wonder if I should remove the Dusky Thrush? Sorry no photos - I realised that they would be complete rubbish and didn't even take my camera out of my bag, instead enjoying great scope views of a really smart bird, the first I've seen anywhere. I watched it for as long as I could bear the bloke to my right giving running commentary on its every move, and when I could take no more carried on along the sea wall to have a wider look at the estuary and marshland.

Superb! Birds everywhere, huge numbers. It's not grim oop north, it's bloody fantastic! Thousands of ducks, thousands of waders. A tidy Merlin, a scruffy Buzzard, and two Great White Egrets distantly towards Blackpool. A quick Double decker was consumed in the hope that the magic would flow and the bird would fly off never to be seen again whilst Bradders was still en route, and then we had to head back south as I needed to back in London for the early evening. But 2013 is the year that keeps on giving! We hadn't been on the road long before news of an Ivory Gull in Northumberland came through - wow! A quick look at the distance involved and it was sadly pretty clear we would never make it before dark, so we carried on down the M6. A wise decision, as sat here now I just worked out that even had we turned around immediately we would have arrived about an hour after sunset. Remarkably, one Ivory Gull at Seahouses became two Ivory Gulls at Seahouses, and with another in Aberdeenshire I'm mildly hopeful of seeing one this winter somewhere. Hopefully on the seal I just pegged out in the garden.

Got home around half three, well ahead of Mrs L's deadline, and was able to chill out for a bit before heading out to pick up the kids from their trip into London. Tomorrow we have nothing planned, and tonight the only thing remaining to do is to crack open une bouteille of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Because twitching a duck doesn't quite portray me as cool enough, I'm thinking that the heat of 2003 would be good for my cold. I'll let you know how it goes.


  1. "That's brilliant mate. Congratulations. Top birding"

    I think that's what you're supposed to say...


  2. Absolutely, such skilful map-reading, superb driving.....