I had my first cold of the autumn this week. I've had worse. It did affect my birding though as I had to blow my nose more often as I walked round Westport than before. I managed and I didn't let it get me down. By Friday, the cold had dropped down into my throat, and my voice wasn't sounding like my usual Joe Pasquale anymore, but more like Brian Blessed. As the day went on, my voice slowly got worse and worse until it just faded away. I was speechless. Literally. Fortunately I'd started work at 05:30hrs on Friday and so I was due to finish early anyway. But when Steve Nuttall rang me to tell me that there was a Great Skua sat on the water at Belvide, I knew where I was heading for as soon as I finished. Then at 11:15hrs, I rang my boss who upon hearing my voice told me I might as well go home as I sounded rough and so poorly.
I rang GAS and squeeked down the phone at him. We were soon heading down the M6 which was rather slow due to roadworks and that Friday feeling. But all the way down it was still raining. I hoped that while it rained, the skua would stay. We eventually arrived and following instructions from PLo as we walked past him, we headed for the Chappell hide.
And there was the Great Skua sat preening away in front of the hide - a magnificent Staffordshire tick It did flap occasionally and even flew around. It was in fine condition. It moves my Staffs list on by one (and don't forget folks my Staffs list only has birds seen in Staffordshire on. I don't resort to boosting it up by adding on species seen in nearby counties. Some birders get mixed up with West Midlands listing and Staffordshire listing. I'll show you the boundaries if anyone is confused.)
Great Skua at Belvide
And so onto Saturday 12th October. The day promised so much. There had been Gannets, Great Skuas and Arctic Skuas scattered all across the Midlands. There was a strong NE winds and a biggy on the East Coast was predicted. Would this be the day I could finally dust off my list and get a British tick under the belt in the tick-fest that is Autumn 2013. We decided to play it safe and we started off in Staffordshire. We took our time at Westport, but by the time we came to leave, nothing major had come on for Staffordshire, and no major rares had been found on the east coast yet. We continued with birding round our usual haunts, but by the end of the day when we looked at our lists, we realised we hadn't seen much at all today. Oh well. There's always next weekend.
Chris tries out his new super lens on his camera. Steve Seal - watch out. There's a new photographer in town!