Tuesday, 4 October 2016

EASTERN KINGBIRD - the fullish story

I often question my sanity! This could be a long one...

5.13pm Thursday 29th September...

MEGA EASTERN KINGBIRD Barra at Eoligary opposite churchyard

I was checking out the churchyard and rectory in the Village when the news broke. Decisions, decisions.

Firstly I had to get Bud to the kennels for 6 for another unscheduled stay...he'll forgive me! I couldn't get through on the phone so I just took him and hoped they had a spare place...they did! The chap who runs it is great and gets on well with my choosy four legged friend.

Back home for 6.30 and a few phone calls made. It's a first for Britain and an American so I'm VERY interested. No charters available (that I knew of) so that was out. Flights from Glasgow were full (probably taken during the time it took to take Bud). I'd made Tony (Dixon) and Trevor (Charlton)  aware previously that I may fly if I could but also that I would rather go with them if it was feasible. I'd also had a good chat with Steve Laughton from Wetherby. The discussions were long and complicated. Louise was out till ten so I also had to break the news to her after she'd got over not being greeted by Bud!

Tony had sorted out the Ferry on many occasions so we left him to it while I sorted the house out and packed my stuff.

The plan - It seemed we had to go for the afternoon Ferry from Oban which arrived in Barra at 6.25pm!! Not great but a slim chance as we were around 20 mins from the site and sunset was 7.05pm. Also if the bird stayed we'd (hopefully) connect first thing Saturday morning. It seemed to be our only shot.

Trevor pulled out as he though it was too risky. I could understand that! Tony said he'd get someone else and be at my house at 4.30am.

3am - I got a fortunate text as I'd forgot to turn my phone off as I'd set my alarm. It was Tony informing me he wasn't well and wasn't going!! What to do? GO!

I arrived at Wetherby around 6 and phoned Steve. He gave me directions and I picked him up at a roundabout near his house. He was obviously puzzled. I explained and off we went.

News came through early that the bird was still present, great! Around 9 Steve booked us on the Ferry, no problem. Further positive messages lifted the spirits. Time to try and get a B&B. Steve tried a few numbers. Eventually he got through. during the conversation I could see he wasn't happy. I could gather there was a problem?


The gent who'd booked us on had failed to mention it wasn't sailing from Oban till 5pm.

What to do. We were already north of Glasgow. Carry on!

I then got a text off Trevor informing me that Dave Aitken was just about to board the Ferry at Uig, Skye...

Oh dear. I felt sick all of a sudden. I'm not the sharpest but even I could work out they were going THE OTHER WAY!!! It later transpired that Tony had tried the routes but for a car. They couldn't get their car on, so they went as foot passengers and hired a car. SMART. It was still tight as they had to drive the length of the Uists and get the Ferry to Barra at 1pm...but they made it and connected! FULL marks chaps! Must have been exhilarating!

Meanwhile, our mood wasn't great. This twitching game isn't stressful at all!?

We reached Oban with plenty of time to spare...now! After grabbing some lunch we made for the Ferry and joined the queue.

2.55pm Western Isles EASTERN KINGBIRD Barra till 2.50 at Eoligary around garden opposite St Barr's Cemetery then flew high ENE over sound of Barra

Oh Dear!!!

After a brief discussion we headed for the Booking Office and got our money back.

We headed home...nuff said!

There is more but that's more than enough for one post


I've spent 16+ hours looking for the EK with no luck or other Birders seen. A loooooooooooooong shot I know but I've enjoyed the Islands (prefer Scilly) and I've finally spent some time here. Still time for it/something else to turn up?

Rose-coloured Starling in Holmpton today...OUCH!!! EASTERN-CROWNED WARBLER at Bempton (co-found by Trevor and Dave Aitken). Maybe it's time to head home...

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