The situation was serious! David Campbell was on 189 for the year and I was on only 177. This could not continue! Lynne had given me the OK for this weekend which promised to be ideal in tems of weather and David was away on a school trip to Italy so there was a chance for me to catch up.
I decided on a slow journey to Bempton Cliffs in East Yorkshire, via various places where good birds had been reported. I prepared my flask on Saturday morning and set off early for Lee Valley to see the long-staying Savi's warbler. Like most warblers this one was also very drab. I saw it briefly and heard it sing twice (a long mechanical song slightly lower than a grasshopper warbler). On my way back to the car I managed some reasonable pictures of a garden warbler who was singing away.
Garden warbler, Lee Valley
Happy with the Savi's, I moved on to Lakenheath RSPB in Suffolk. There were several grasshopper warblers near the visitor centre - a lifer - but I was really hoping to see the golden orioles. I went the wrong way round the path so ended up walking further than needed, but I eventually came to the group of twenty or so with their scopes trained on the orioles' nest. It was quite high up so, again, pictures not great, but I was happy to have seen them.
Golden oriole on nest, Lakenheath RSPB.
Golden oriole on nest and flying, Lakenheath RSPB.
After a very long walk back to the centre and a well-earned coffee, I was then off to Weeting Heath (Norfolk Wildlife Trust) to see the stone curlews. It was late morning by now and the heat haze was severe. The hide was packed. Stone curlews are very elusive and well camouflaged. If they sit still they are invisible. I saw what I was sure was a stone curlew but it could have been a pile of earth!!
Back at the carpark, I learned that there were spotted flycatchers in the woods. I found them and managed good views of another lifer. "Spotted flycatcher, a lifer??" said a kindly Yorkshireman I met. "They're garden birds for us". I told him my garden birds are the ring-necked parakeets which now come every day to our feeders!
Spotted flycatcher, Weeting Heath NWT.
I thought there was just enough time to go to Cley for the Collared pratincole which had been there for a few days. When I got there it hadn;t been seen since that morning. I couldn't afford to hang about. I had to get to Bridlington and I didn't even have a B&B for the night. The satnav said 4 hours and it was after 5.00 already!
While I drove, Lynne rang round all the B&Bs in Bridlington but they were all full. Well it was the bank holiday! Lynne said all the B&Bs seemed to be in one street. I decided to go there. I got there at 21.20. I pulled into Marshall Avenue and the first B&B I saw, Harmony Guest House, had a sign up 'Vacancies'. I thought to myself that it might be the worst B&B and that's why it has rooms free. Nothing could be further from the truth. Margaret and Ian were lovely. The room was basic but clean. They had just a single free.
Margaret gave me a parking permit, came with me to show me where to park and then helped me carry my heavy gear back to the house. She gave me breakfast at 7.00 on the Sunday, made a flask for me and helped me carry my gear back to the car. I couldn't have wished for more. Well done and thank you Margaret. Anyone wanting a room should try Harmony - 01262 603867.
The following morning I set off for Bempton. . . . .