Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Ducks and Dipping

I took a couple of days off work this week. I really needed a break after being stressed enough by work and things that my wife sent me to the doctor. He gave me some beta-blockers to calm the slightly manic tendencies that I'd recently developed. Hmmm... not good. Having said that, I guess I've got little to be stressed about compared with many people in the World today.

So, two days off work (holidays). I reigned in my more ridiculous plans (helicopter to Scilly anyone?!), and decided to to go birding along the east coast, setting off late enough to have something resembling a lie-in. As for the birds, things didn't work out brilliantly.

On Monday I went to South Shields to see the Lesser Scaup on Marden Quarry, Whitley Bay. Bit of a journey, but the idea was to then go down the coast. I saw the bird, getting close views of a nice, small, brown juvenile, loosely associating with Tufted Ducks. Probably forced over by all the hurricane action we had a month ago. Seemed to be settled and feeding well - it may well stay for the winter.

I then received a message that a Red-flanked Bluetail - a real must for me - had been seen at Flambourough again, after being reported over the weekend. So off to South Landing to stare into a bush for a hours and see... nothing. I knew I should have come here first, then gone up for the duck. Anyhow, I had some good banter with other disappointed birders.

On Tuesday, I took the kids to school, then did my monthly BTO WeBS survey along the River Aire. Really nice to do this without having to nudge myself along as I usually do (so as not to be too late for work). Good to see a Kingfisher - not been too many about after the hard winter - but I was surprised there were no Goosander on the river yet. Annoyingly, whatever time of day, week, or year I do this circuit, either I'm, or the birds I'm recording, are harassed by a dog owned by some selfish dog-owner (who then smiles at me). I have no problems with dogs - I really like them - it's stupid owners who do not understand the words "please keep dogs under control" that wind me up.

So, the inevitable message came saying the Red-flanked Bluetail was seen again at Flamborough. Grrrr, I had to go a try for this, and stupidly I did. I knew all along it wouldn't show when I got there. Before setting off I grabbed a CD and took the washing out of the machine (brownie points). Of course, the RFB did not show, despite me and several others grilling just about every bush on the headland. My UK year-list ticked over to 207 with the Yellow-browed Warbler I picked out of a very mobile Goldcrest flock. And, yes, I heard the RFB did eventually show after I'd left, in the one area none of us were checking earlier. D'Oh!

Anyway, I had the new mix tape (well, CD) my mate sent me, as a primer for the Damnation Fest we're going to in November. Some great stuff by Caspian (a bit like Explosions in the Sky), God is an Astronaut (better than I remember them live), The God Machine (a welcome blast from the past - "The Love Song"), Jesu (the lush "Losing Streak"), my old faves Godflesh (the timeless "Love is a Dog from Hell"), Celan, The Mire, Gojira, the slightly ridiculously-named Astrohenge, etc, etc. Some great stuff in there if you like your music slow, fast, loud, quiet, and down-tuned. Helped me forget my disappointment of dipping the RFB.

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