Thursday, 30 June 2016


And so the next chapter begins.
On Wednesday 15th June, I arrived at Westport Lake at 05:45hrs. Nothing unusual about that as it was my 154th day I'd visited there so far this year. This June has been particularly crap down there, but then again its been a very poor year so far, with a low number of species seen so far and the possibility / probability that this will be the first year that I won't see 100 species down there. 

Its fairly well known that on my first scan of the main lake I always check for a drake SURF SCOTER. Its one bird I do believe will grace Westport in the next few years. Todays scan resulted in a large chocolate brown gull sat on the lake at the far end. Armed with only bins, I walked onto a jetty to reduce the distance between me and the bird. It still looked like a large brown gull. From the start I only had one bird on the tip of my tongue, but this was Westport. I wanted to eliminate a oiled LBBG but without a scope it would be tricky. 

I started to look round for CJW as I thought there was a chance he would be down today. I texted him to see if he was awake. No reply. Bearing in mind it was still before 6am and a work day I was in a bit of a predicament. I rang PJ as his mobile is always by the sideof his bed. Nothing. I rang them both several times. Nothing. The bird was being dive bombed. I managed a few "record" shots through my bins. Not Steve Seal standard but hopefully enough to prove what I was watching.
Would it be good enough?
Then at 05:58hrs, I gambled and rang PL. A tricky one because PL works shifts. He answered. I asked if he had been working late last night. Yes he said. Ouch I thought. I then told him I thought I had a skua sp at Westport. Ok he said and put the phone down. He was down quite sharply and set his scope up. Looks like a Bonxie he said. Thank you I said!

I then left Westport to go and knock on CJW's front door. It was quite amusing to see him lean out of his window and peer down at me. It only took three knocks as well. Great Skua I said. Mmm he replied! 

Mrs PJ answered the land line in PJ's house and he was soon on site as well. The panic of not being to contact anyone at before 6am was slowly subsiding. Westport's first ever Great Skua was sitting pretty on the main lake.


Steve Seal

Steve Seal
Video courtesy of CJW

I disappeared from Westport and headed off to work. Around early afternoon, information starting coming through that there was a GREAT KNOT at Titchwell. This bird had so far eluded me in Britain, having had two opportunities before with the Lancashire and Suffolk birds. I decided to risk it and head off. 

I escaped worked and eventually headed off to Norfolk. All this time, the GREAT KNOT was sat on the freshmarsh roosting. I was only about fifteen minutes away when it flew off. Gutted wasn't the word. I later discovered the flock had been hit by a flash of lightening! It was absolutely pouring down and the roads were starting to flood. I decided to head for Hunstanton and wait on news; the reason being there was internet connection and so I could keep up to date. I'd been sitting for nearly an hour when news came on that the GREAT KNOT was back on the beach. I was only fifteen minutes away and I hurtled off. The water was pouring down off the fields and the roads were almost unpassable. I parked up at Titchwell, walk to the beach, saw the crowd in the distance and headed towards them.

I'd almost reached them when a flock of Knot came flying toward me. I instinctively lifted my bins and latched on to a bigger bird at the top of the flock. I knew it was the Great Knot and watched it fly away towards Thornham Harbour. 

I hung around until 9pm but it never came back. Still, it had been a great day.