Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Hudsonian Godwit, Somerset April / May 2015

It all began while we were waiting for the ticket office to open in Penzance for our crossing over to the Scilly Isles for the Great Blue Heron. As we sat there, news started filtering out of a possible HUDSONIAN GODWIT in Somerset. It was the first news of the day, and we all thought that maybe nothing would come of it. I think it was RBA who mega'd it first, and then it started to dawn on us all, there was a HUDSONIAN GODWIT in Somerset, and we were all going off to sea.

We had other things to concentrate on while we were on Bryher, but at the backs of our minds, we knew all the mainland birders were ticking their very own mega. We decided that if it was still present at dusk, we would pretend the Scillonian had landed even later than planned, then drive up to Somerset, kip in the car and wait for first light. We would be home, hopefully, at about 09:00hrs. We were all agreed on the plan

Then as we were wandering to Lower Moors, we caught up with Mick Hurst and crew again, and he told us that the HUDWIT had flown off. Slightly gutted by this, we then had to make the decision as to whether we still went or not, hoping that it would fly in again. As CJW had seen the 1983 bird at Blacktoft, he left the decision to me. On the crossing back over to Penzance, I checked all my options, did my research, listened to the other birders on board (including Somerset birders who said the Godwits always return to that scrape) and decided I risk it and head for home. 

Following just over three hours sleep, I did my usual walk around Westport. Only this time, everytime my phone beeped I was dreading what I was about to read. But, as the visit went on, there was still no sign of the HUDWIT. There were mixed feelings I suppose. Firstly I made the correct decision not to go, but on the otherhand, it looked like we'd missed out on a very good tick.

And that was the end of that. 

Until Wednesday 29th April when news started filtering through that it had returned mid morning. Eventually it was confirmed and I started making plans. I knew I had to move quickly before it flew off again. However, Wednesday was a work day and I was busy after work. It flew off again at 20:05hrs, but it returned again on Thursday morning. I managed to leave work at 14:45hrs, arriving in Somerset at 18:00hrs. It was a cracking drive down; full of tension with periods of no updates and then stuck in traffic with less than 20 miles to go. 

I parked up and walked briskly to the scrape, meeting Hughie King walking back to his car. He reassured me that it wasn't going anywhere but I didn't slow down; not even for Hughie (sorry if I appeared abrupt hughie!).

And there is was, feeding away. The Hudsonian Godwit showed well for most of the evening, feeding away, and later on it flew even closer to us. It was a beautiful sunny evening. Cetti's Warblers were singing all around and a drake Garganey on the same pit was a nice addition. It had been a busy few days and two ticks in April was my first time in ten years.

Drake Garganey - a must on a Spring evening

Meare Heath NR

Nice pic with a possible confusion sp - a fem Gadwall

Hudsonian Godwit showing well late evening

Nice to see young Chris there tonight

Post Script

The reason I  was unable to go down on the Wednesday evening to see the Hudwit was that I was picking GAS up from hospital, having spent a few weeks or three having his meals cooked for him in a nice ensuite room. We had a practise walk around Westport on the Friday, and once news came through on Saturday I picked him up and we headed back down to Somerset (my 3rd time down the M5 in 8 days). It was quite an easy twitch, and the Hudwit was asleep with the flock on our arrival. Pop's 2nd tick of the year and his first trip out since the Laughing Gull at the beginning of February.