During the morning of Tuesday 29th May, news came through of an ORPHEAN WARBLER trapped and rung on Hartlepool Headland. It was released at the Bowling Green, and there were regular sightings of it during the morning. It was just like the WHITE-THROATED ROBIN all over again.
I planned to leave work at 15-00hrs, but when I read it was just sitting in a bush, not moving, I panicked, blurted out some pathetic excuse and left work at 14-20hrs. I met up with Pops and by 15-00hrs we were heading north. It was to be a stressful journey (unlike the one for the WTRobin when we drove the whole journey with no news at all!) . First of all, the ORPHEAN WARBLER flew off, but luckily, it was soon relocated and eventually returned to the Bowling Green. Then, only nine minutes away from the site, news came on the pager saying that "some observers believe the bird to be unwell". I had visions of it being picked up moments before we arrived.
We arrived on site at 18-00hrs, having paused and glanced at the WTRobin wall and walked quickly to the bowling green. It was heaving with birders. I had a very brief chat with Snapper Richards, Archie and Mr Maggot before we pushed our way through the crowd and found a space.
We were soon watching the Orphean Warbler flitting around in one of the bushes on the far side. I was amazed at its large size plus the large beak. But most of all, I was watching a flaming Orphean Warbler in Britain!
Following these initial views, we lost track of it. Eventually, it was relocated sat motionless in a bush. And there it sat for the next hour or so, occasionally lifting its head.
The Orphean didn't move from this position for over an hour!
The next problem, was that PJ and RSu were also on their way up, having left work at 16-30hrs. I eventually rang them to see where they were, and they were still 30 mins away. I looked at the bird and willed it to cling onto life for just a few moments more. I tried to guide them in, but Pops went back to the car to try and spot them. At about the same time, some local youths decided to start banging the fence behind the "roosting" Orphean Warbler.
I looked up and saw PJ and RSu rushing into the Bowling Green. I waved to them and beckoned them down to me. Next minute, the banging got louder and the Orphean Warbler flew off. I wasn't sure whether either of them had seen it, but luckily, by stopping at the top, both had seen it before it flew. It was a very close shave.
We waited another ten minutes, and the local kids started banging again. This time we knew where the Orph was sitting and we were able to watch it fly across in front of us. PJ stayed after us and had some good views. We headed home, happy with our second extremely succesful twitch to Hartlepool.