During the afternoon of Sunday 31st July, news broke from Minsmere that a PURPLE GALLINULE had been found. Initially there was very little interest in the bird, but slowly as the afternoon went on, it was suggested that this could well have decent credentials. Fortunately, it was the start of my long awaited two weeks holiday and said I decided I'd got nothing to loose and started to plan a trip.
I woke up in the middle of the night as per usual, and decided I might as well get up. I was on the road to Suffolk by 00:45hrs. I had one short sleep somewhere in Cambridgeshire and I parked up at Minsmere just after 6am. There were a few cars but it wasn't packed.
The Western Purple Swamphen had already been seen once, but I had to wait another 45 mins before I saw it, briefly in the reeds before flying across to the right hand side of the pool. Eventually it came out on the far edge, showing on and off as it fed on the reed shoots.
Towards the end of the week, as it was my birthday and CJW's long weekend off, we had decided to head down to Cornwall for a few days. Things became complicated though, as CJW tried and failed to get a day off in the week to head down to Suffolk. We decided the only way was to head to Cornwall via Suffolk. Then the Devon LEAST SANDPIPER was found too.
Our mammoth round Britain tour started at 14:30hrs on Thursday 4th August and I drove back down to Suffolk. We arrived at just after 19:00hrs. We were quite relaxed because we were staying the night in a Travelodge, and so we did have the morning to fall back on in case we weren't succesful. I walked towards the South hide again, and the nearest two birders pointed to the reed bed as I approached. There was the Purple Swamphen feeding in the nearest set of reeds. Eventually CJW arrived, gasping and pouring with sweat following the short walk from the car park. It performed incredibly well for us and the trip was off to a good start.