Bird Race 2008
Yawn! the alarm goes off at one-thirty and I've just fallen asleep. I drag myself out of bed as quietly as possible and get a hurried breakfast (I always have to!). I met John, Tony and Phil just after 2 - they all piled in my car and we set off for Belmont in the hope of some LEO's.
No LEO's but a singing Gropper and Barn Owl were a good start. We drove the 40 miles up to Leighton Moss where we arrived at 3:30 and the other night-singing warblers were quickly ticked off. We struggled a bit for Water Rail but eventually they squealed!
Back on the road we listened to the dawn chorus - the weather was warm and the air still and this resulted in the loudest chorus I've ever witnessed. the Song Thrushes and Blackbirds drowned everything else out! We managed to get some of the woodland birds needed at this point of the day but dipped on Green Woodpecker and Jay which we didn't see or hear the rest of the day.
At Jenny Brown's Point, there was poor visibility so other than the closer waders we got very little. Back to the Moss and Marsh Harrier and Bearded Tit were both well seen. It was off down to the Eric Morecambe Pools next for waders - very disappointing apart from a Kingfisher. The crag viewpoint yielded Little Egret (a bird-race tick) and thankfully Bullfinch so we headed for Warton Crag where Peregrine and Raven were very obliging (but not Little Owl!). Next was Morecambe and Lesser Whitethroat & Eider and then to Heysham where we got the Black Guillemot (another bird-race tick) and Purple Sandpiper. But it was still misty and there was no passage of terns at all. :-(
Next it was inland to Bowland - and our usual Dipper site yielded the expected results but the Wood Warbler site didn't. We hit the 100 mark around 10:30. On Catlow Fell we dipped on Ring Ouzel but enjoyed a superb male Hen Harrier and forgot about racing for five minutes. We actually got Cuckoo here - a really rare bird in Lancashire now. Pied Fly's and Redstart soon followed as well as Nuthach, and Grey Wagtail in Slaidburn. Then on to Stocks where the Boney's had been in the morning but wasn't any more - we wasted an awful lot of time here just for Med Gull and Redpoll and still no Green Woody or Jay.
One of the highlights of the day was tea and cake provided by Margaret and Brian as we searched to a Spotted Fly in their garden (the Pied Fly was singing non-stop!) and Snipe. Apparently our two missed birds put in an appearance five minutes after we'd departed!
Back through the Trough and a lovely pair of Whinchats were exxentailly our last new birds of the day - we attempted the Glossy Ibis at Inskip (it had gone) and then hit an horrendous thunderstorm that curtailed our birding for an hour. It was 4pm and we were all tired. 117 Species had fallen but we reckoned on getting just 20 more leaving us 4 short of our own record and 10 short of the new record set a couple of weeks previously. We decided to call it a day but make plans to do it properly next year - we'll see!