First stop was Silkstone near Barnsley. My second attempt for that jewel of a bird...Firecrest. After managing to get a push from another birder after getting my car stuck in mud (not the first time) I made my way to the rear of the sewage works to join the small group of hopefuls. The next couple of hours had a familiar ring. Lots of woodland birds but no Firecrest. Most Birders had left, there was just yours truly and a nice chap from Leeds.
He then found a bird I haven't seen for a good while. Nuthatch...
Love the spotted undercarriage...
As we made our way back to his car I had another scan. Another Goldcrest? No, this time...FIRECREST! Perseverance pays off.
There it was, hopping around in some dense undergrowth. The light was very poor and the bird was very active but I managed a record shot...
My fellow birder couldn't get on it so I helped him and after a couple of minutes he "had" it. Then it was gone. He kindly gave me a lift to my car which was parked well away from the mud! We shared a good few stories about the Pyrenees. It was only when he asked to look at my photo that amongst all the rubbish I noticed this...
He was amazed to see a Firecrest flight shot...so was I! No award winner but worth showing you I feel.
Next stop...Fairburn Ings. Another second attempt. This time for Drake Smew. Another jewel. I had an initial scan from the cut but it's a BIG lake. The trusty trinnies picked out plenty of Goosanders and Goldeneye but no "White Nun". I came across a Birder from Donny at one of the viewpoints. He'd been there 2 hours with no sightings. It had been reported on the pager around 11? After having a chat with him I made my way down to the bridge and sat on a bench. More scanning.
It's amazing what you can pick out sometimes just with binoculars. As I scanned beyond the central island I could see a tiny white speck moving around just clear of the line of bushes. The camera comes in handy on these occasions as once the image is zoomed you can see what it is...usually? My telescope would have been even handier!!
So, conclusive evidence. There it was.
I walked back to inform the other birder and he had a scope. Within 5 minutes we'd both had decent if very distant views of the star bird.
This was the best I could manage at c400 yards...
Then it was gone.
Final stop Blacktoft Sands. A report of a LEO (Long-eared Owl) had come on the pager. Also, 2 chaps who'd had a look at the Smew had just come from there and said it was close to the path. There we go then.
I arrived around 3 and immediately saw the cordoned off area on the way to Ousefleet hide. There was one chap stood there...the Birder from Donny!
Alas he couldn't find it...neither could I. I have to admit at this point the word "flushed" crossed my mind. Fifteen minutes passed, we checked the adjacent bushes but no sign. Then another birder approached from the Ousefleet hide and said it was there when he passed earlier?
Well, after a good 5 minutes he got both of us "on it"...
It just wouldn't turn it's head.
An excellent day.