Saturday, 15 January 2011

"...on his gun there's more than twenty seven notches..."

This weekend, Clerk of Works has taken the Assistant up to see friends back in East Yorkshire, leaving me to a couple of days split between a bit of birding and work. Yes, I've moved jobs yet still seem to have to work at weekends. Ho hum.

Anyway, even for Siblyback standards it was dead this morning. Set against the drizzle and blustery wind the best bird was a Common Gull. I considered suppressing this remarkable record for fear of setting off a mass invasion of twitchers, that would disturb the immense flock of 18 Tufted Duck. Given the brisk wind, a quick trip down to Hannafore seemed the right thing to do before my sojourn in front of the computer. There was a steady stream of auks making their way out of the bay, of those close enough to identify mainly Guillemots with a few Razorbills (time was I could confidently identify these even at distance). A few Kittiwake were doing the same with Gannet further out. Just off the rocks a couple of Pale bellied Brent Goose were bobbing about (presumably returning birds from last year). A total of 4 Great Northern Diver were also located.

Gazing at the murky horizon I was reminded of my lengthy seawatches at Spurn when I was a proper birder. I would get up at first light, make a cup of coffee and walk the few yards to the seawatching hide. Within a few minutes it would be clear whether it was going to be worth staying, but the unwritten law was that a minimum of an hour was required. I fondly recall the camaraderie of good seawatches there, and the bizarre and often surreal conversations that resulted. For a spell there was a craze of singing Doris Day songs (which involved Dale Middleton I recall). You can imagine the surprise of a visiting birdwatcher when opening the door of the hide they were met with the sight of a line of scope wielding birders, enveloped in numerous layers against the biting wind, lustily singing "The Deadwood Stage" - "whip crack awAAYYYY!!!"

Other surreal moments occurred when in the absence of birds inanimate objects became of interest. "Plastic bag south" called from one end of the hide, followed by a period of silence. A few minutes later "Got your plastic bag" is called from the other end, as said item drifts gently southwards. Those were the days.

PS: Honorary membership of the ex birders seawatching and singing club goes to anybody who correctly identified the Doris Day lyric in the title.....

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