Monday, October 27, 2008

A Game of Two Halves

OK, since we spent more time listening to Radio Five Live in the car over the weekend than actually birding, let's go for a footballing analogy on this one.

The 1960s 'Spurs legend Jimmy Greaves once said that football was a "funny old game". Well, there was nothing funny about the Birders in Boxers first half performance over the weekend. It was more akin to the early season standards set by the 2008 Tottenham Hotspur team - a bunch of tired looking players demoralised by a pathetic strike rate. And a last minute substitution on Friday night - the Little Blue Heron - didn't help by completely trashing our game plan. Anyway, here's the Match Report:

First Half (Saturday, October 25th): Wayne and I left Cardiff at 6am in the 'Dipmobile' to tank it up to Kidwelly, picking up Jeff on the way. First light saw us join up with other birders at Banc y Lord (attendance c.200 and, apart from a contingent of Cardiff boys, there were no other Glamorgan regulars in the crowd). Our hearts sank when we saw the 'pitch'. It was massive with more dips and holes than the Millenium Stadium and we had the feeling straight away that the star player wasn't going to show. Nevertheless, we gave it a couple of hours before trudging away. Admittedly a poor show of stamina, but we knew we were on a hiding to nothing. As it turned out the LBH didn't come off the bench for the rest of the day.

Next stop Weston-super-Mare Sewage Farm for the long staying Ferruginous Duck. This bird was meant to be a 'first half penalty' - we were sure to score and we could head off on the long run down to Portland Bill with our spirits raised. But we shot over the cross-bar (Cf. Paul Bodin, Wales v Romania 1993). The bird wasn't there.

Portland Bird Observatory

We arrived at Portland at around 4pm to be told that the Glamorgan Bird Club crowd had had at least one Sabine's Gull close in while seawatching. We grilled the sea off the Bill for an hour but saw nothing. Why break an old tradition? We were in need of half time refreshments and an opportunity to discuss tactics, so we traipsed off the birding field of play to the 'changing rooms' (the Obs/Pulpit Pub).

Firecrest, Portland Bill

Second Half (Sunday, October 26th): A wet and windy night was followed by a wet and windy morning. Visibility was awful and nothing was passing through apart from a few Gannets and three Common Scoters. And so, not long after Jeff had dragged himself out of bed (9am!) we said our good-byes to the rest of the GBC crowd and we were on our way again. The team tactics was to call in on Radipole Lake to find the long-staying Hooded Merganser - for insurance purposes! It took us around 45 minutes to find it. None of us were really bothered but we were concerned that, if we couldn't find the back of the net with this 'sitter', we may as well give up the game. But, with Vinny Jones style grit and determination we found the bird having a kip up one of the channels.

Hooded Merganser - Radipole Lake

Leaving Radipole we took off on a long, cross country journey to Appledore, North Devon in search of the King Eider. Wayne steered the 'Dipmobile' into the seaside car park, jumped out and broke through the defence (Cf. Ricky Villa, 1981 FA Cup). "I've got it" he called. His Majesty was in residence. Back of the net!

The Dipmobile

A lifer for all three of us, this 2nd winter was a better looking bird than we'd expected. Let's hope it returns for another few years in full adult plumage.

With a spring in our step we rolled down our socks and threw away our shinpads (I'm getting bored with this football analogy now - as you probably have been since the very beginning) and off we went for another visit to Weston-super-Mare for yet another look ofr the Ferruginous Duck. There was no 'last minute goal' - there was no sign of it, although it was good to bump into some of the GBC boys there who we'd last seen back at Portland.

Birders in Boxers celebrating at our favourite pub in Appledore

We were back home and in the showers (not together I might add) by 6pm - absolutely knackered but happy at having ground out some sort of a result and at having had a good laugh along the way. A better performance next time would be appreciated.


Wayne said...

Relegation form for sure!

Tim Hall said...

Hmm, the LBH was reported again yesterday, or is it a Little Egret with dirty legs? Anyway the KE and the newly returned Dawlish S Scoter are drawing me in their general direction soon....2 lifers...

Tim Hall said...

Are you sure the Hoody is plastic?

Dan said...

Hoody is being debated on Bird Forum as we speak. Apparently it comes to bread and mingles happily with the Mallard and 'farmyard ducks' at Radipole. According to contributors on BF other Hoodies in the UK which some birders consider kosher were far more shy. But, it could easily have learned to take bread/become tamer as it spent longer at Radipole. This bird was an imm when it arrived and appeared at the same time as other Americans in the UK, so it does have that going for it. Truth is we'll never know and it's unlikely to be 'officially accepted'. It's not on my list. Could be on Jeff's though!!! ;-)