Monday, 14 September 2009

Pigs Can Fly

I sat at home today with the kids in the drizzle and brisk northerly, occasionally as I checked Birdguides Bird News Extra a sigh escaped under my breath. By midday when I sat with head in hands rocking back & forth my two year old daughter came up to me and placed her head on my shoulder to reassure me.
Today will go down as one of those legendary days of which tales will be recounted for many a year. The conditions were such that Tim Cleeves abandoned his search for Slender-billed Curlew for the day and staked out an early morning position on Church Point along with many others.
Late afternoon and Stewart 'they named a beetle after me' Sexton arrived in a suit, with great disappointment I'm led to believe there are no images of this momentous event.
Cory's.....Sabine's......Great Shearwater.......Pom......Pom..... the names kept coming all day, the birding equivalent of being waterboarded.
By six, tea cooked and dishes done I cracked and hit Newbiggin, still seven bodies on the Point including Alan Hart, Roger Forster, Martin Kitching & Brian from Northumbrian Birding.
Settling down I picked up a distant Sooty and it was obvious there was still plenty of Manx passing. I started checking through the Kittiwakes and came across a bird with a dark rear head and scruffy darker looking mantle. Discreetly I asked MK sat next to me to get onto the bird and started directing him, as he followed my instructions he picked out an adult Sabine's Gull sat on the sea a few metres away in the same flock. We eventually ID'd the bird I was watching as a juvenile although it never showed as well as the adult which kept lifting into the air providing super views. A couple of Little Gull moving around just added to the mix in a heavy swell.
Several Arctic Skuas moved through and then as we were watching the Sab's Gull MK called a small auk as (cough, splutter) Little Auk. Expecting a juvenile Puffin I fixed onto it and found a summer plumage Little Auk. Now there have been so many times I have sat next to other very experienced sea watchers and we have all dismissed claims of Little Auk, it's almost a standing joke in August and early September. Just a couple of days ago I didn't bother to publish a couple of sightings at St Mary's for that very reason, "just some inexperienced birder making the classic mistake" I thought. (Turns out it was Alan Curry so I think I owe him a pint).
So next time anyone says Pigs Can Fly I know not to doubt them.


Anonymous said...

There`s been Pinkies (small skeins over West Yorkshire)& Fieldfares (in the NW)reliably reported already. So it`s no surprise Little Auk is earlier than usual.

Martin Kitching said...

After my earlier comments about September Little Auks, I wasn't going to make that mistake...

Blyth Birder said...

I left at the same time as Stew, must have just missed you.