Monday, August 01, 2005

Spokes, Skuas, Sandpipers, Punctures & Phalaropes all in the day! 30/7/05

Friday night arrived and I was considering tomorrow’s options, a Pectoral Sandpiper had been at Titchwell earlier in the week, this was clearly the obvious target. But also luring my attentions had been a Red-necked Phalarope seen at Titchwell briefly on Friday – was Burnham Norton going to come up trumps again. After an evenings fishing on the Wensum Friday night with plenty of time to think, I was still a little undecided so I deicided to lie in and get up around 8am.

The pager spurred me into action whenit announced the Pec Sand was present at Cley so this really made the decision for me.

By 830 as was on board the “Marin” my legs punching away fuelled with the enthusiasm that the “Pec” was awaiting me. If I needed to find second gear, I soon did, as I rode and checked the pager it now announced that the Red-Necked Phalarope was also at Cley and both were available from Daukes Hide, I was out the seat and really going for it up Hunworth hill (yes there are hills in Norfolk – try cyling around the Holt ridge area!) when a sharp crack was heard, and then a whirring sound. The first thing I noticed was that the rear tyre felt like the brakes were half on, looking down I could see from the “wobble” that the rear was clearly warped. Stopping to inspect the damage I realised I spoke had sprung – shearing the rivet head. The wheel was now catching the brakes on each revolution, I decided to salck the brakes off and continue – the bike still worked, but it was effectively like constantly cycling up hill.

I eventually arrived at Cley 0945, it had taken 1hr & 15 mins, along way short of my expected 52 mins (my best time from home to Cley). Still as I walked to the hide I was assured both were still present, and so they were; RED-NECKED PHALAROPE & PECTORAL SANDPIPER, the Pec was a nice adult showing well at distance on Simmonds, whilst the Phalarope, a moulting adult, entertained pirouetting along the shallows of the island edges.

After absorbing these star birds for ¾ of an hour I headed down the east bank, and carefully sat studying the Terns and waders, .......couple of Greenshank,lots of Redshank, nice group of Dunlin, checked 'em twice but no Curlew Sand.......... Black-wits, 1 Spot shank, lots of Common and Sandwich Tern, 1 whimbrel all nice stuff but nothing to set the pulse going or add further to the list. I decided to seawatch for a while, I still needed Arctic Skua and this had to be a possibility didn't it? Despite there being a whole load of Terns feeding offshore – no skuas!

I walked down to the pool known as “sea pool” but this returned more Redshank and little else. As I headed back towards the East bank a small motor boat was speeding along offshore, even with my nake eye I could make out a line of birds following the boat, I raised my Leica’s – yes!! There it was an ARCTIC SKUA , the unmistakable dark sillouette twisting, turning and powering after an unfortunate tern, I scoped it to confirm the identity and ensure it was “just” an arctic.

I walked to North Scrape in the hope of a Wood Sandpiper – but the birds seen earlier in the day seemed to have departed – and no one had seen the Curlew Sandpipers of yesterday.

As I returned to my bike I was reminded that I had a bike to nurse home, however the pager reminded me again 2 Wood Sandpipers at Stiffke, I pondered the relatively short distance and it proved too much of a chance to throw away. A phone call home to Jacky confirmed that if the rear wheel completely failed she would bring up the old “all steel” heavyweight for me!!

The ride was hard work but I was soon at Stiffkey flood, a quick scan and I spied both WOOD SANDPIPERS, plus their near cousin a single Green Sandpiper through my scope. The Wood Sands were cracking birds with their heavily scalloped upperparts and gleaming white supercilia.

A pretty eventful day continued! En-route home I survived a spectacular blow out as warped rear went from 80 PSI to flat in about 5 seconds, I eventually arrived home at 4PM very tired considering the relatively short 62 Km covered.

216 NMYL and 42miles round trip