Wednesday, 23 May 2012

CCC. Yes, yes, yes.

Tuesday May 22
Our first twitch this year and a very enjoyable one. We saw the bird and the weather was hot, cloudless with very little wind. Good job that the wind was missing. Kington Golf Course is the highest 18 hole course in England with spectacular views over the Brecon Beacons, Black Mountains and The Malvern Hills. It's in Shropshire, right on the welsh border.
I'd been sweating on this since the news came out late on Sunday night. It's only the 5th Cream Coloured Courser to appear in the UK and the first  Spring bird. I'd missed the 4th, in Scilly on St Mary's golf course, when my surgeon insisted that I went back in to hospital for a week (infected knees after replacement ops) and I had to cancel our annual trip.
We set off at 4.55 a.m. in thick mist which continued until almost the end of the hateful A14. Our SatNav then took us on a cross country route, with lovely rural scenery under cloudless skies. It was a surprise to find enormous fields of strung hops and three different groups of oast houses along the way. Delia was temporarily discombobulated by a closed road and a diversion but soon got us back on track.
The approach 'road' to the golf course was narrow. hedge-lined and very steep. It seemed endless as we were expecting a lot of birders traffic. One car only on the way up. We stopped at the Clubhouse car park, togged up and a kind woman golfer told us we could drive further up the mountain until we reached a ' cars no further' sign. Thank goodness she did. It was another mile and a half of precipitous lane.
Another lady golfer (it was ladies day) told us to cut across the course and make for a shed and a tree viewable in the far distance. It seemed a very long way, only a few cars in the parking area and not a birder in sight. Where was everyone? We eventually found a group of birders on the 8th fairway, standing in the rough, scoping the far side.  At the very top of the golf course !

A quick binoc view, scope up and views of a spectacularly beautiful bird in immaculate plumage. After looking our fill, I attempted some digiscoping despite the distance and the shimmering heat haze. 

If you can make out a black and white pole in the far distance left of the rape fields....that's where the bird was feeding. Not as far as it looks on the photo but far enough.
The bird took no notice at all of the golfers nearby and fed busily throughout our stay. Very Plover-like in its short dashing runs and food gathering.

This is the best I managed, greatly cropped. Lovely photos on Surfbirds, They must have been there early, before the golfers and stood much closer ! Sour grapes?
More birders were beginning to appear - from a different direction to our approach. And....a much shorter route, as we discovered on our return journey to the car. We did have to keep a watchful eye out for flying golf balls. 
After a very late breakfast, in common with other birders it was bird first, food after, we left about mid-day, meeting Justin L, Penny C and Andy toiling up the hill. We were able to show them the shorter route to the bird.
I took a few photos to show the steepness, the beauty and the incredible views.

What a lovely day. Everyone on the golf course was pleasant, helpful and interested in our antics. One woman reckoned she first saw the bird 'on the 7th tee  last Friday'. Entirely possible, will it stay for the weekend birders?
I wrote to the Club Secretary this morning (Weds) to express my thanks for their generous access and, received the following reply within the hour.

Thanks for that. You have all been so well behaved. I trust your trip was worth while and the weather is being so kind to us all so that we can enjoy our hobbies.

Nigel Venables

After several stops - and the return 'no access' road problem again solved - we were home at 6.00 p.m.

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