Sunday, 8 May 2016

Saturday 7th May – The Bird Race (Good birds, good company and posh sausages)

Firstly on Friday there were five Black Tern at the Reservoir which I popped into see on the way home from walking in the Malverns, unfortunately they were not present on Saturday.

I was invited to join the Ladywalk Loons as we took on other birding sites in the Midlands to see who could record the highest number of species in a day. I was really keen as it was the first bird race I had been involved with and I was looking forward to it.

I set the alarm for 3.30am and was on-site at 4.05am where everyone was stood in the car park waiting for me! I hadn’t really rushed as I was expecting to be first.... My blushes were spared somewhat by the fact that Adam Archer hadn’t arrived, so I wasn’t last. He arrived 20 minutes later, as, on automatic pilot at that time of day he forgot to get off the motorway and was making his way to work – been there, done that.

Birding in the dark, is a strange experience and it brought home to me just how bad my hearing has become, I really struggled to hear anything, even a distant Tawny Owl eluded me. Then when the others picked up a reeling Grasshopper Warbler, I just couldn’t hear it, eventually later in the day I managed to get close enough to pick it up. But it looks like I may well have to seek medical help.

I though we might get around 70 to 80 species during the course of the day, amazingly the total stood  at 81 species by the time we stopped for breakfast in the car park at around 9.30am. Pete Softley’s pick-up was transformed into a mobile kitchen and a barbecue was lit and some rather Posh sausages (Steve Haynes) were produced. There is something about eating outdoors, that I can’t quite put my finger on, but they tasted fantastic.

The team consisted of Pete Softly, Steve Haynes, Steve Cawthray, Adam Archer, Myself and Kev and Mick who I hadn’t met before, we were joined at breakfast by Dave Hutton and Donna who timed there arrival just as the sausages had reached perfection on the barbie!

We then split up to try and locate a few extra species that were missing from the list, with SH and myself driving to the Environmental Studies centre to search that area, whilst Steve Cawthray, Kev and Mick worked there way along the river to meet us in what was a vain attempt for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. We search some undeveloped areas of the old Hams Hall site that none of us knew existed adding nesting LRP and a single Ringed Plover. We all agreed that a weeks ago we would probably have caught up with Wheatear or Whinchat at the very least as this area looked good.

I went home and had a snooze and returned at around 5pm by that time the running total had risen to 91 species. I thought the heavy rain that fell in the late afternoon may well drop a few birds down. We regrouped in B hide where we added Yellow Wagtail then after I went to check another area of the reserve the others added Hobby taking the total to an impressive 93 species. Everyone looked knackered and by 7.30pm we had run out of steam and called it a day.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable day and I would not hesitate to do it again. As i tweeted, Good birds, good company and posh sausages.

No comments: