Tuesday 17 December 2013

Dadpower - Twitching the Patrington Ivory Gull

Lived up to my blog name today. Had the day booked off to attend Solomon's playgroup nativity and Adelaide's carol concert. And then an Ivory Gull rocked up at Patrington Haven! Yikes!

Unable to get there yesterday my day off work surely must give me an opportunity. Given that yesterday the bird showed up at 8.20am and then showed well for a while before flying off and spending most of the rest of the day distantly apart from returning to feed mid afternoon, I thought I should go early and get back for 11am for Sol's performance of mini Joseph. Stupidly, I hadn't quite calculated things correctly and instead of arriving at 8.15am ready for the gull to arrive, I found myself in a traffic jam near the Humber Bridge at 8.30... I texted my wife to say I would be turning round as I was never going to make it and then get back for 11. Anyway, I was stuck on the A63 until the next junction and as luck would have it, I passed the broken down lorry that was causing the chaos there and suddenly the road cleared. I legged it on through the dawdling morning commuters and arrived at Patrington Haven at 9.05am. I was then told it was a mile walk - bugger!

Donning my gear I ran down to the pumping station thankful for all the training I have been doing but regretful for the bout of flu I have been getting over, which erupted in a coughing fit half way there. I passed Jack A-B and Olly en route who said the bird was showing brilliantly. Fab! I may just pull this off! When I got there, c50 birders were standing around nonchalantly chatting and not looking at the bird. So where was it? Was I being blind? No, it had flown off. But where? Why was nobody looking? After a bit of panic caused by the comment 'it flew on to the river mate' I found a guy who looked like he was birding. He was, and seconds later I was viewing the corking Polar-bear-crap eating wanderer.

Awesome! Not as mindblowingly close as everybody else had seen it, but a cracking scope filler in glorious winter morning sunshine. I drank in the tiny black tips to the wing coverts and primaries, the characteristic mucky face, short black legs - seemingly feathered to the knee! - and the other features. And then, five minutes after I had set eyes on the reason for my mad morning dash, I had to go.

In order to get back for 11 o'clock, I must be back in my car and heading west by 9.30am. I shot off lugging my gear passing rather bemused twitchers wondering why I was running away from the bird. The journey back was much quicker, and yes, I made it back in time to see my three year old lad do his star role as Joseph. A real tear jerking moment. And the nativity wasn't bad either!

Post script. This is only the second Ivory Gull I have seen, the first being the Southwold (Suffolk) bird way back on 9 December 1999. That bird famously got blown up during the Millennium Eve firework display!

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