Friday, 30 October 2009

Pec-king Sab-lime Mate

Saturn must have moved out of my zone today as everything went to plan. After much internal debate about choice of location this morning I decided to head back to North Shields after yesterday's dip and have another go at the Sabine's Gull.

A minor detour via the 'Beehive Flash' to check on the off chance that yesterday's reported Pec Sandpiper was still lingering proved the right choice. After searching through all the birds on the flash, two Mutes Swan and four Mallard, I narrowed the Pec down to the only wader present. Pec Sand was one of the first rare birds I ever saw, twenty years on and they don't even qualify for rare these days, scarce is about the mark. My first one was in the summer of '88 not far away at Swallow Pond. A bit distant across the flash so this is a record shot.

I pushed on to North Shields, as I passed the ice house things began to look promising I could see lenses and a dark figure came into view hovering near the edge of the dock. As I parked the dark figure, poised like the slightly wider round the waist 21st century equivalent of an Ojibwe native spear fishing, morphed into Ian Fisher aiming just over the dock side. Then rising on the updraft the juvenile Sabine's Gull drifted up into view, a mesmeric vision of dark grey, shining white and inky black. For the next few minutes this gull of headland, spray and swell, this denizen of the open ocean gently ghosted along the air currents almost within touching distance of the quayside. The pungent smell of the nearby fish quay invoking the chum of the pelagics of bygone years that have provided the best opportunity to get close to one of the most charismatic larids that graces our oceans. Even old eyes that have seen Sabine's a hundred times like Andy Mclevy seemed on the verge of an epiphany as the graceful elegance of this bird provided views that revealed the unrelenting beauty in it's fullness. My only disappointment is that my lack of experience behind the camera doesn't do anywhere near justice to this bird.

Then whilst no one was looking, it slipped away unnoticed, something it's done quite a bit during its short stay. Hopefully this bird will stay and delight more observers over the weekend.

I noticed Ian Fisher, out of the corner of my eye, slipping away silently like the Clint Eastwood character from A Fistful of Dollars, perhaps like everyone else he knew that nothing any of us said could add to a near perfect gull.
ADMC and I dropped back in for another peck at the Pec on the way back north and bumped into Alan Curry. Apparently that Central Asian Lesser Whitethroat last week at St Mary's had halitosis or some derivative, at least I think that's what he meant by halimodendri. Must have got bloody close, some fieldcraft.

1 comment:

Northumbrian Birding said...

You got some cracking shots there Alan, I got a new camera ,and just can't do a thing with it.........