Sunday, 17 September 2017


Seven days is a long time in Birding. I thoroughly enjoy all aspects of this wonderful hobby, although it can be hard going around the Village on occasions...I still enjoy the challenge.

When something "special" turns up in Britain, I'm always interested...just depends what it is. Fortunately I can say...No! On this occasion it was a "must"...if possible.

As can be seen from my 2 previous posts, things (as usual) turned topsy-turvy. After sorting out a charter on Friday night I arrived at Manchester City Airport, Barton around 8.15am Saturday morning. It was surprise there! Around 9 the three of us joined the pilot and preparations were made.

I have to state at this point that details of what happened next are best kept confidential...for obvious reasons.

Suffice to say that the plane got into difficulties and we ended up in a field adjacent to the M62. I sustained injuries sufficient for me to be airlifted to Salford Hospital. I was treated brilliantly by the para-medics in the helicopter, the Police, Firemen and the Hospital staff. My family joined me and I eventually left around 4pm, somewhat stunned!

Quite a spectacular way to dip I feel!!! It could have been worse...obviously.

Time will tell what caused the plane to crash. Think it's best left there.


I recuperated locally at my Mother's in Bury, leaving for home on Tuesday lunchtime. The bird was a distant memory and wasn't on my mind, partly due to the medication I guess! I had to report to Withernsea hospital to get my head wound checked. The nurse was happy with it.

I'd received a few messages from Steve Lawton and Tony Dixon regarding the AMERICAN REDSTART. There was an early Ferry from Oban on Wednesday morning...tempting! Louise arrived home at 7pm and I gave her that look. The absence of Buddy was another clue! After raised eyebrows she gave me the nod.

Tony kindly drove. Erich Hediger was with us and we picked Steve up at Wetherby. I settled in the passenger seat with my painkillers. Things were going well and we were making excellent progress as we approached Scotland on the M6. Red lights ahead!? Accident. It was around 2am. We didn't move an inch in the ninety minutes or so. The mood was grim as we started to realise we weren't going to get to Oban by 6.35. We found some info online giving a forecast of a road clearance by 4.30. Too late!

One of the many fascinations of twitching!

Fortunately the prediction was wrong and we started to roll around 3.45. We had hope. It was going to be close but it would be preferable to make it as it would allow us a relaxed afternoon with the bird...if it was still there of course? Twists and turns. We did have the option of the later Ferry at 1.15 but that would have left us much less time to connect on the day. We would have known if it was present before disembarking though. Complicated this twitching game!

We arrived in the Ferry queue at 6.45am. A touch of hurried paperwork and we were on board. Phew! The irony now was that we were committed to an 8 hour sail not knowing if we would connect. The morning progressed on a fortunately steady sea. 8 - 9 - 10 - news. Glum faces at the prospect of another 4 hour sail, turn the car around and come back again!!!

Way out of Pager range but the ship had wi-fi. I have the RBA app but no details as I haven't upgraded.  Around 11.40 I casually looked at the headlines...again.


RFI, Negative or Positive? It soon became clear the bird was still there...Huzzah! The rest of the journey was plain sailing.

Fully aware that we still hadn't actually seen the bird, the mood was now positive. We disembarked and drove the 10 miles to Eoligarry in a convoy of 4 vehicles past a number of bemused locals. Again, fortunately for me we could park right by the church. We sorted our gear out and walked the short distance to the stunted sycamores.

No big crowds here!
After a frustrating 30 minutes of brief glimpses the star turn eventually showed well...on occasions. Plenty of pics of this superb bird about now. For the record...

Add caption

A few more thoughts...

Charter or ground travel? I've done two previous charters for the CAPE MAY WARBLER and the BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO. No regrets. Things didn't work out last Saturday but NOBODY could have predicted that! The logistics for me personally on this occasion, would have made the cost worthwhile. This was backed up by the sweaty morning on the Ferry...character building though. I also know a lot of chaps don't have the time to go overland/sea. It's a personal choice.

Someone was looking after me on Saturday September 9th.

What it was all about...

Another top American bird is added to my list...Happy Days!


Pam said...

Oh my gosh, I saw about the plane on twitter, didn't realise you were in it. I'm very glad that you (and everyone else) came out of it (semi) ok. I think that would have put off many but i'm pleased you managed to see the bird in the end, what a week you had!

chris elliott said...

Very glad you got to see it ! Keep up the excitement of birding!


Alan Whitehead said...

Thank you both!