Sunday, 4 September 2011

Perfect send off

Reed Warbler

It doesn't usually work like this, but today was one of those days when everything just seemed to fall in my favour. This weekend, it has been almost like the patch has known I am being called elsewhere and my coverage of the site will, very sadly, have to fall significantly. Yesterday was fantastic with top views of three Spotted Flycatchers, a nice Grasshopper Warbler and plenty of birders on site offering top class company but today was even better.

It started slowly with no sign of the Spotted Flycatchers at Circle Field, but a calling Tawny Owl nearby (which I failed to see). Roy arrived and we had a bit of a skywatch before heading for The Scrub. Rain stopped us at Lunch Wood and, after hearing a Tree Pipit and enjoying two Whinchats at Broadfield, we thought the most comfortable and productive thing to do would be to return to our skywatch vigil. We were only a third of the way back when Roy picked up a Common Snipe whizzing past us! This, along with Curlew, is the hardest of the recorded waders at the patch and a very welcome year tick for me as well as a good patch tick for Roy.

Common Snipe

Little was moving in the sky but we roughed it and stayed put. When the rain eased off I saw a warbler fly into a nearby bush but couldn't get another view of it and dismissed it as probably a Common Whitethroat. A while later we saw it fly into a bush on the other side of the path and, honest to god, I joked to Roy 'now wouldn't it be great if it were a Reed Warbler'. I don't know what made me say that, I've never said that before, perhaps when I saw it flying my brain subconsciously identified the bird - bloody weird. Seconds later it popped out '**** me, it is a Reed Warbler!!!'. It dived down and I started to doubt my relatively brief view; had I really just seen that? Was I getting carried away after my comment?

The wait was long and tense but the bird showed again and was indeed a Reed Warbler. I snapped away and one of the results is shown here. We were both delighted. A minute or so later and Ian 'Scarecrow' arrived and, very luckily, saw the bird quickly before it vanished. Three Swifts and four Meadow Pipits then flew over and we were reluctant to leave but had to.

A first for CFBW and a very good year tick, what a way to end a brilliant six months of non-stop birding. They have probably been the most enjoyable six months of my life so far and I thank all the birds and birders who have made them so. It ain't over, though; despite my return to full time education tomorrow I will still manage to visit the patch a lot. I'm certainly in a better position than I was this time last year seeing as I have two 12.30pm finishes and one 11.00am start. This allows three weekdays where the patch can be done to some degree even in the depths of winter, whereas I couldn't do any weekdays in the darker months at my previous college.

More at cfbwbirds

Canons Farm & Banstead Woods Life List: 107
Canons Farm & Banstead Woods Year List 2011: 99 (85 at this point last year)