Monday, 3 March 2014
A trip to see my Mum!
Yep, we've all got 'em, mothers that is! Now my Mum is 84 and lives in wildest Wiltshire. So it was about time I paid her another visit, and early Sunday saw me and my long-suffering daughter eating up the miles, bombing up the M5 in my respectable motor. Having rounded up Bewick's Swan for the year in darkest (wettest?) Somerset we carried on as it just so happened that there was a stonking good bird available about 15 miles from Mum's home, so as I used to keep a Wiltshire list (being my home county) I simply just had to go and visit the Shire Valley. We pulled up in a muddy lane, donned wellies, coats and gloves (well, it is colder up there than in our mild storm-lashed part of the UK) and were promptly hailed by one of my old mates from a bygone era. It was some 30-odd years ago that we used to travel the length and breadth of the land for lifers with a small band of birders from Wessex and it was great to catch up with Ewan again yesterday! Shortly afterwards we were in position in the very muddy valley and after a brief wait, were getting mind-numbing views of the first-winter male Red-flanked Bluetail that has been in residence since early February! What a great bird to see. This one showed down to about 15 feet, perching on a stick and eating mealworms that some kind soul had obviously left for it, in the hope that it would have to hang around until 2018, therefore providing birders with a fantastic year tick for the forseeable future! This was my 4th Bluetail in the UK, and perhaps it's been a bit undervalued these past few years as it used to be an absolute Cosmic bird! My first on Fair Isle in 1984 was just about the best bird one could wish to encounter as it was a true rarity in those days and had most birders having orgasms when the species was mentioned! I saw another in Cornwall, the same day as a Chimney Swift! But the hardest I had to work for was the one at Berry Head in Devon, which eventually gave itself up after a 6-hour search. After the Shire Valley had thrown as much mud at us as possible, we popped up the road and added Corn Bunting to the 2014 list before going to visit my dear old Mum! Today, a lunchtime visit to Topsham Rec' provided me with my first Lesser Redpolls (3) of the year and a very obliging Common Sandpiper