Wednesday 17 August 2022


The Black-browed Albatross currently/recently residing at Bempton Cliffs remains on of the best birds I have ever seen. I had the opportunity to see it again a few weeks ago. Notionally the prize was the Turkestan Shrike that had appeared in basically the same place, though not with Gannets. That was all fine, always go see Shrikes, even if someone fleeces you for £10 to stand next to a pile of rusting old boilers and assorted junk. Guardians of the countryside, pah. It showed pretty well, though not as well for us as it did for some, and we went away poorer but nonetheless happy with the result of seeing it and not dipping after a four hour drive.

I had woken up at 3.15am and had taken Bob as far as Stansted. From there Bradders Birding Tours picked us up along with co-guide Howard, and we made our way north. As is customary I slept for most of the rest of the way, waking up briefly for coffee and breakfast, but essentially contributing only a regular and I would like to think calming soundtrack. Shrike present and corrrect, yes yes, but actually we all just wanted to go and see the Albatross again, or in the case of Bob and Howard, an Albatross for the first time in decades. I suppose it is possible that this is the Hermaness bird from all those years ago, they are very long lived as everyone knows, but somehow I doubt it.

It was there (it is not always) and it was glorious. Initially asleep on the cliff it got booted off by an unimpressed and angry Gannet and flew quite a way out. That might have been it, but after an ego-restoring period on the water it got up and flew lazily back to the cliff before flying figures of eight right in front of us for what seemed like ages. What. A. Bird. Mesmerising.

The return journey also saw a fair amount of sleeping, and the guys were good enough to wake me up for a quick stop at the Idle Valley where a convenient Caspian Tern had been hanging out. Ol' carrotnose was still doing precisely that, and we enjoyed it flying around for a bit whilst adding to the day list. I don't do a great deal of twitching these days, but days out like this with (had I been awake) good company and wonderful locations are sometimes just the ticket.

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