Thursday, 30 April 2015

GREAT BLUE HERON - Who says twitching is stressful?!

Last Monday a fellow Yorkshire twitcher Steve Lawton made his attempt to see the GBH. I knew he was "going across" and was rooting for him. I also knew from the lack of news from Bryher that things weren't going to plan. Anyway let Steve tell the story...

"Very stressful but ultimately rewarding twitch yesterday. Caught the 8.30 flight from St. Just with my brother, having stayed overnight in Hayle. Concerned at the clear cold night, but at least it was a beautiful morning for the flight. We strolled down into Hugh Town, giving Old Town Bay a quick scan, and waited for the 10.15 Bryher boat. Couldn't believe how busy the boats were; two full boats for Tresco/Bryher and another full one for St. Agnes, but only a handful of birders. We teamed up with two birders who'd got a slightly later flight, and were then joined by a third later still and the five of us scanned the Big Pool from the hotel, with odd sorties to Popplestone and Stinking Porth.
Other than a single Black-tailed Godwit, (carefully checked) and a few Gadwall there was little to excite, apart from being annoyed at casual birders constantly circling the pool. Fieldcraft! There was no heron to be put off from landing, but it added to the frustration. I amused myself watching a Wren build a nest all day as I steadily burnt and froze in the stiff breeze at the same time.
One of the crew disturbed a Night Heron on Stinking Porth and had earlier found a Woodchat at Porthgwarra. I had my Wren!
At 3.30 it was time to give up and make sure we were back in plenty of time for the 18.01 flight. Afterall it had been on the Big Pool every day at some point since the 16th, so it had gone.
After a cracking pastie on the quayide that weighed a ton and was crammed, it was time to head up to the airport. There's a plastic heron in one of the gardens as you leave Hugh Town and I snapped it to send to my birding mates as my best effort.
We boarded, handed our bags over and waited for the flight, already trying to fight off a headache and thoughts of the drive through the night back to Leeds. For the 50th time I tried to get signal and then eventually facebook popped up and a message from my mate Marcus said it had flown back in, (which I assumed to be the Big Pool on Bryher). My brother then announced it's on Lower Moors. He needed to be back home, but I effectively refused to leave. As the bags had already boarded, I contemplated running like hell down to Lower Moors, hopefully looking through someone's scope and running back up for the flight. Instead we asked for the bags back and tried to sort a flight or the Scillonian for the next day. Isles of Scilly travel were awesome and did all they could to accommodate. No issues or jobsworth approach with the bags. Reunited with them we ran down to Lower Moors.
Hoping to be on the bird staightaway and it wasn't the case. It had been seen by a local birder, but was out of view in a field with views into the sun. I knew what was coming next, a brief view of a heron sp. disappearing towards Old Town Bay, and not to be relocated. It couldn't have been further from the truth. Moments later it got up and flew towards the pools. We got to the screen and there it was, big ugly and "blue" and happily catching small fish with incredible success. Views were into the sun, until it flew again, and was now outside the hide fifteen yards away. Wow! Took plenty of snaps until it got up and flew to some hidden reeds.
Great accommodation was eventually found, a pint to celebrate in the Bishop, but the need to sleep prevented any further and longer drinking.
Full English this morning and an upgrade to the 9.50 flight out instead of the Scillonian. Mission accomplished.
I can only imagine the quality of the shots to come based on what it has done today. I'd have loved to have stopped and seen it again, but given where we were at 17.00 the day before I had to be happy with the outcome. In an earlier post I mentioned the Birding Gods. If news hadn't come out when it did, if Marcus hadn't have posted, if I'd not have got signal, if my brother had not got signal, if we couldn't have retrieved the luggage. From despair to joy. We could so easily have landed in St. Just, picked up a signal and seen that it was showing. Thanks to all who prevented that.
I don't do a blog so apologies for taking up the thread with my encounter with the bird. Good luck to anyone else going for it. When seen well and close, it's a cracking bird despite what some have said. Time to browse through the snaps!"

Posted with Steve's kind permission. VERY well done pal. PHEW!!!

...and here's what the fuss was all about...

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