Thursday, March 19, 2009

If At First You Don't Succeed . . .

With sandwiches and flask packed I went out yesterday for my first 'all dayer' of 2009 with one thing on my mind - Ogmore's Iceland Gull. It has a nasty habit of going AWOL for long periods of time and I'd already dipped on it three times.

I was expecting some early spring sunshine but the weather was decidedly grey and cold when I got to Ogmore. I stopped off at the Watermill but couldn't get excited about the Moorhen, Canada and Farmyard Geese which were hanging around there.

Plan A: When I arrived at Portobello Island I bumped into Mike Pointon and Nev Davies who'd just seen the gull fly down river 5 minutes before I'd arrived. Bugger. If only I hadn't stopped at the flippin' Watermill. I drew a blank on the walk down to the rivermouth but there were plenty of other birds around. Four Sand Martin and a pair of Buzzards flew overhead, Meadow Pipits and Dunnocks were singing everywhere, Stonechats were pairing up and on the river there were good numbers (for Ogmore) of Redshank and Oystercatchers, three or four Goosanders, some Gadwall, Teal and Shelduck.

Plan B: I had a theory. This gull must fly east when it naffs off from the estuary. If it flew west one of the birders around the well watched Portchawl area would have found it. I set off along the coastal path towards Southerndown. I gave up a mile or so later having only seen a few Herring Gulls. There was also no sign of the female Black Redstart that had been in the area the previous day. But, on the way I'd picked up my first Wheatear of the year (there were at least seven of them around Ogmore) and the gorse was buzzing with Linnets. Just as I was about to turn around I finally found the local Choughs. On the rocks there were one or two Turnstone, 20+ Purple Sandpipers and, in the 'walled field', a Curlew. A Fulmar bombing its way west was a surprise.

Having re-checked the rivermouth and Portobello Island it was time for Plan C. Newton Beach. But that was almost completely birdless. Bugger. Plan D was to drive all the way to Cosmeston to try for the Iceland Gull that's been seen there occasionally. But, the sun was finally shining, it was a beautiful spring day and did I really want to go to Cosmeston? Did I heck. I'll just try Plan A again.

The welcome sight of a large flock of gulls greeted me at Portobello Island. I lifted up my bins and the very first bird I saw was the Iceland Gull. I love it when a plan comes together! Out came the camera but, as I was about to take one of my legendary photos, the battery went flat. Apologies to those of you who look forward to seeing my awsome pics - you must be gutted. Normal 'wobbly/blurred/is that a bird or a blob on the lens?' service will be resumed as soon as possible.


Wayne said...

Can we call you Hannibal now then?

Bird houses said...

great post! too bad about the battery :/