Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Monday 6th June 2011 - Hartlepool Headland

The beginning of June has recently been quite good and so we were half expecting something to turn up. However, the weekend came and went with nothing doing. Understandably, it was a bit annoying to receive news of a mega on a Monday morning at 09-00hrs. Not the best time of the week. As the morning went by, the reports of the WHITE-THROATED ROBIN kept coming through, and I started to think about going after work. This week, Tuesday and Wednesday were totally out of the question, and I realised it was Monday or bust. Then news came that the bowls match had started and the bird became more elusive. The last sighting was at 13-43hrs when it flew back into the out of bounds Doctor's Garden. I decided to leave work at 14-30hrs but I was still very undecided as whether to make the effort or not. I could only think that the sightings would get less and less as the day went on, and we would not be there until 17-00hrs. I headed round to GAS's flat to discuss the situation with him. As he came down, he jumped into his car with all his gear. The trip was on.

We headed up the A50 and A38 and then received the news that it had been seen again briefly at 15-10hrs. That raised our hope a little, but as we were driving along, I worked out it had been seen once in 4hrs, and that was only a brief sighting.

We hit no traffic and headed out onto the headland. As we got nearer, we could see a crowd in front of us. They didn't look like birders, more like a riot of some sort. As we got nearer, we started seeing a few scopes and we realised we had found the crowd. But what on earth was going on. There were two vans with birders stood on the roofs, and loads more birders just standing around.

Our first impressions

We slowly discovered that the WHITE-THROATED ROBIN was showing in the garden on the other side of a 10ft wall. I then started to think how was I going to get on top of the van, and how was GAS going to get on. Then the ladders started turning up. I noticed one was being set up and we immediately joined the queue. There were only three birders in front of me. We had to wait about ten minutes for the bird to be found again, and then I simply had to wait my turn. Incredibly, after only being on site for less than 15 mins, I was up a ladder watching a female White-throated Robin sitting sunning itself. I reluctantly came down to let the next man have his go, but I joined the small queue for seconds. On my second go, I managed a bit of a video.

So after nearly not bothering to go up at all, we had our tick in no time at all. It really was a bizarre sight and one of the strangest twitches I've been on. Grown men on top of vans, grown men trying to climb wall, some covered in anti climb paint. Unforgetable!
Note the dirty hands These blokes were only popping down to the shop
GAS in the red cap up a ladder

A video grab (well what do you expect when I'm up a ladder!)
The bird is just right of the obvious white rose (This was repeated many times on our ladder)

There was more drama to come. Fellow Clayheads Rich Sutton and Phil Jones had set off at 16-45hrs from work. I had already worked out that it would be nearly 20-00hrs by the time they would arrive. We kept in touch as they drove up. When the Robin flew from the Doctors garden, we all walked round to view the bowling green but there was no sign of it there. I saw quite a few birders walking down the road, so I followed them, only to find they were simply walking to their cars. We walked back to the green, only to find most of the crowd had departed. It was only 19-00hrs, and it seemed that everyone had seen it. I really felt so sorry for the boys on their way up, as they were going to have no chance of seeing it. We headed off for home just after seven. I spoke to Phil; he was still an hour away.

Then, at 19-17hrs, I received news that the WHITE-THROATED ROBIN was back in the Doctors Garden. I sent this to Phil. He arrived in Hartlepool at about 19-40hrs. When he parked up, he saw three empty ladders and so presumed the bird was not showing. A quick question as to whether it was showing was asked, and they got a surprise answer back.


An ecstatic PJ following his furthest after work twitch ever (finishing work at normal time that is)