Sunday, 8 January 2017

At Last !

Saturday January 8

The trip was originally scheduled for yesterday. Icy roads delayed plans by a day. Just as well, a mid-morning drive to North Walsham saw a car on its roof near Bacton Woods.
Setting off on at 06.10  wasn't brilliant, patches of thick mist for the first 10 miles and a forecast of cloud overcast in Derbyshire.
We collected J and D on schedule at 7.00, the SatNav predicting that we would be in Beeley by 10.00 a.m. That did not account for three circular detours in Matlock as the SatNav did not recognise mini roundabouts in the instructions...... 
I'm glad that we didn't have try and park in Beeley during the early arrival of the bird. A small village on uphill roads with nowhere to park, apart from the pub which said 'Twitchers park at....' another place miles away. 

We found room at the Dukes Barn Centre, having already sorted out Pig Lane before trudging up the hill to the muddy lane. The garden on the first corner had three pigs heads grinning at us from the wall.
Only 200 metres or so later, we saw J and D in the distance with about 15 other birders. We'd sent them on ahead to nail the bird down whilst Pam breakfasted. We stopped at a field gate just before them, so that we had an unimpeded view of the tree line between two fields, where a large group of Redwings were feeding. I'd taken notice of Pam and not carried my scope. Boy, did I need it. Fortunately, ever thoughtful D joined us, setting up his new Swarovski 90 scope beside me. Waw, my first ever scope views of a Dusky Thrush, said to be a 1st CY female. I'd dipped the Gravesend bird.  It was very aggressive towards the Redwings, constantly chasing them away whilst staying faithful to the patch of pasture under the tallest tree. It's pale upper breast patch and what looked like a dark semi collar were the most obvious markings. Too far away to make the marks on the breast into the reputed chevrons. We were all delighted.
This is the photograph which best represents what I saw. In the same position too. NOT MY PHOTO, but it is the Beeley bird, taken by Joav Perlman 

Photo taken at the beginning of December when it was closer, eating apples in the orchard.

There were also Nuthatch, Blue Tits, Chaffinch and corvids in the area. We did not walk a further half a mile to see a Great Grey Shrike.
I also saw the bird, even better, through J's scope. She was her usual generous self, allowing all and sundry to look through, as a good half of the 30 or so present did not have a scope. 
I suddenly saw an older woman with white hair smiling and waving from the lower end of the lane. I had a total blank. Fortunately, I remembered who she was but not her name, still don't, when she arrived for a chat  At least 30 years ago, we travelled Turkey with her, husband John (she called him), and a seed cataloguer from Kew. She had bright red hair in those days. John is a retired Customs officer who had many amusing stories to tell us of an evening. We've met them once at the Birdfair and once at Titchwell since.

After a much needed cup of coffee and loo stop in the village pub, we drove home, happy and contented. A very late lunch/ early supper in a Little Chef on the A47 and some Norfolk fog before dropping off the Bs.
Man U beat Reading 4-0 in the FA Cup and Rooney equalled Bobby Charlton's goal record for the club. I didn't realise that despite having very low scoring 2015-2017 seasons, Roo equalled the record in over 200 fewer games and two years.sooner. Charlton was a mid-fielder though.

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