Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Bastard Birding Gods

My track record in East Yorkshire on the way from Scotland continues, like me, to head south. Whilst I could have got up at midnight, or rather not gone to sleep at all, I instead opted for the much more civilized start time of 3.30am. I wasn't actually expecting the Crag Martin to be there, and so plan A was to spend as much of the day photographing Gannets at Bempton. In the event the bird was there, irritatingly briefly, and I missed it by perhaps an hour, and then of course wasted - in so far as wandering round on sunny bird-filled cliff tops is ever wasted - a portion of the day waiting it for to turn up again. Which, needless to say, it didn't.

It's actually a fairly long diversion from the standard route south on the A1, probably adding something like three hours to the overall journey. The last time I did this I dipped a Roller, which in fact was still present but just hiding from me, no doubt instructed to do so by the Birding Gods, though what has caused their displeasure I have no idea. At least the family wasn't with me this time, and I could spend the whole day dawdling in a very pleasant area, rather than a brief stop in the pouring rain, no bird and a largely silent drive home. In fact the only similarity, other than dipping, was arriving home in London gone 11pm and being totally shattered the following day. 

After scoring the Tawny Pipit on the cliffs, I decided I'd had enough of standing around with scores of identically dressed dejected-looking people, and proceeded with plan A, which was Bempton. Actually I think it was plan B, as plan A had been to go the Farnes and spend hours and hours photographing Puffins. This plan was abandoned soon after inception due to all boats at this time of year seemingly topping out at 1 hour max on Inner Farne, and in order to get even that, having to face up to another dose of Grace Darling and running commentary as to what a Shag looks like. Bempton therefore seemed a viable seabird extravaganza alternative, and indeed was a brilliant day out, the lack of very rare vagrants notwithstanding. 

In many ways the weather was too nice to be photographing large white seabirds, but whilst I waited for friendly clouds I just breathed it all in - in particular the sound is incredible. Kittiwakes dominate, but all the Auks are there, and the Gannets are magnificent. When was the last time you were four feet from a Gannet that had absolutely no interesting in flying away from you? If you can bear the eight hours in a car that it will take you to get there and back from London, it will be brilliant for the next three months or more. Perhaps do a weekend, Farnes on Saturday, Bempton on the way back on Sunday?

I stuck around the area 'til the bitter end, hoping it might reappear to roost in the same area as the previous day, but there was no further sighting after about 8am. Somewhat of a shame. Apart from that, all is well. Well, almost. Did I mention the Osprey?

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