Saturday, September 09, 2006


A few weeks ago I went back to one of the first nature reserves I ever visited, Lincolnshire's Gibraltar Point. 15 years ago or so I was one of a bunch of young kids being walked through the place on a school trip. It was the wrong time of year and we were very noisy so we saw pretty much no birds although I'll always remember seeing my fist natterjack toadlets hopping around near one of the pools.

As I was back in Lincs for a week I thought a return was in order...especially as a couple of vagrant american waders had been showing in the preceding fortnight - my first ever twitch! Sadly by the day of my visit there were only a couple of other pairs of eyes still searching for the lesser yellowlegs or longbilled dowitcher. As I made my way to the freshwater pools I got a shock in the hide. There were waders everywhere. Huge flocks of godwits and a bank covered in avocet. Small sandpipers dashed about here and there before I could get a scope on them and a few little egrets stalked the shallows.

I quickly gave up on the desire to scan the flock of godwits searching for the Dowitcher through my low magnification scope. The godwits were moulting in all colours imaginable and I didn't even really know what a dowitcher looked like beyond the drawing in my guide. I did think we'd found the lesser 'legs but that turned out to be a wood sandpiper which, like the curlew sandpiper pointed out later, was a first for me anyway. Having got the strange feeling of failure out of my mind having "dipped" my first twitch, I settled down to take some poor quality shots of the friendly green sandpipers at front of hide. My photos, like my twitching efforts, were dismal but the day was fabulous. I'd achieved none of the things I'd set out to but had a great day on the reserve as I busily failed. In a few weeks I'll be headed back for my first effort at watching visible migration as thousands of birds descend from the North Sea. That should be beyond fabulous.


By way of clanking segue, this is my IATB contribution this fortnight and the the first I-and-the-Bird contribution I submitted was about albatrosses. I'll make no apologies for asking you all to sign this petition to help protect one of my favourite families (and several other spectacular species of wildlife) from longlines as its well worth it. The aim is to get 1 signature for each albatross killed on longlines every year, sadly that means 100,000 signatures.

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