Saturday, 30 October 2010

Whoop, Whoop, Boom!

I should have written this yesterday but it all went to shit, thanks to BT, and if the conspiracy theorists are to be believed, Take That. Work yesterday was a steady stream of Waxwing reports from all parts north with flocks in Aberdeen seemingly outnumbering people. Somewhere around mid-morning as my thoughts turned to replacing the inch deep grey tea that was gradually acquiring a skin and I looked for a gap in the reports of marauding, berry stripping, feathered locusts, I heard the distant whooping sounds. Nothing visible in the sky I padded downstairs to find them oddly coming from the kitchen, or more accurately my wife (34) in the kitchen.

Much too my disappointment her obvious vocal excitement was not because she had just glimpsed a Black-throated Blue Warbler in the garden but because she had after 90 minutes of failing to get through to Ticketmaster, given up and sent a friend around to the ticket office at Newcastle Arena, as a result bypassing the bottleneck and securing, no doubt overpriced, tickets for a bunch of has beens.

Post work after an abysmal 40 minutes looking at an empty sea, I headed up to Cresswell Pond for the final hour of light hoping to catch a glimpse of one of the Bitterns that have been teasing everyone with the occasional flypast for the past couple of weeks. A scan of the north end revealed a sprinkling of Dunlin in amongst the Wigeon and the first Common Snipe beginning to stir.

I relocated to the gate beside the burn and began to scan across the phragmites that were been flung about in the wind. Squinting across to the small bank of phragmites west of the hide I could discern a dark shape about halfway along in the upper half of the reeds. Out with the scope and the shape revealed itself as a Bittern clinging on to a stand of reeds about two feet above the water it's upward pointed bill almost level with the top of the swaying reed heads.

I walked into the hide and as a result the angle of view changed. I never saw the bird again. I entertained myself for a while picking cryptic Snipe out of the short stems on the rides in front of the hide, looking for a Jack. The light faded and the sky grey I heard it again, the whooping, at first distant, coming closer like an approaching band of Apache on horseback. Then out of the west, the large ghostly grey and white shapes of five Whooper Swans, swept low into the pool and skimmed across the surface. I stayed till dusk, as 58 more arrived in small family groups, out of the darkness, to roost. The juveniles were particularly difficult to see in the dying light, grey necks merging into one another in an almost ethereal otherworldly manner.
The occasional call, caught in the wind as I left in darkness, drifted out into the night; the call of the wild providing me company as I made my way back to the light.

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