Saturday, 26 May 2012

Back in Black

Question: what does having kids and doing a year-list have in common?

I thought I knew the answer to this one, especially after a week like the last one at work but, to be sure, I asked Steve James, who is far better qualified – on both counts – to answer. And, even if he wasn’t, could be relied on to answer convincingly nonetheless. As expected, Steve replied instantly, straight from the hip and with his characteristic supreme confidence. Most unusually, I actually agreed with what he said just for once.2

As further evidence of the veracity of this, I found myself, on 25th May, on Lulu Island. Buoyed up by a Great Reed Warbler before work a few days earlier (only my 5th in spring on the island), it seemed like a good idea the night before; a last chance to sort out Golden Oriole (and so be able to worry about other things come September), flush a Little Bittern from the lake then kick a Sprosser out from somewhere (I saw one in the wild west in early May but this will be the first May I miss them on AD unless…) and, just maybe, following on from last weekend’s bolt from the blue, find a Didric Cuckoo on the back strip and so make up for the near-total dearth of migrants this May on AD in one fell swoop. Well, anyway, that was the plan.  I arrived on cue at 0600 armed with my largest hat and three litres of steadily thawing ice, and, five minutes later saw a Marsh Warbler. At 0845, just before I left, I again saw (the same) Marsh Warbler and in between, absolutely nothing. No migrants, no other birds1, no shade, no clouds, no greenery and certainly no indication that this was anything other than complete lunacy. So I paddled back, seeing Lesser Crested Tern and Socotra Cormorant from the kayak and pretty much sacked off (for the spring). The tipping point was adding insult to injury with a 2-minute boot of a flowerbed alongside the nearby mall instantly producing, er, a Marsh Warbler.

So the moral is… quit while you are ahead. After the May 18th Ye Gods! Calidrid incident, where shurely I used up most of this year’s luck in one go, the writing was clearly on the wall. It said River Warbler? Get real!


Total so far - 165 (93%)
Last addition – Great Reed Warbler (23rd May)

1 With apologies to those four fine Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse.
2 Both totally screw up your brain.

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