Saturday, 25 April 2015

Great Blue Heron ......... On Scilly

Great Blue Heron on Bryher.

Yesterday the 24th April i teamed up with Kevin and our destination was the Isles of Scilly and our target bird was the Great Blue Heron on Bryher which was only the 2nd record of this species in the UK . 

 Kevin picks up the story from here , i will add photos of the Great Blue Heron as the story unfolds :

Following a whole two days spent dipping the Heron on 15th & 16th April ( note the bird reappeared once we landed back at Land's End !! ), Rob and i decided to give it another go.
In the 7 days that had passed , the bird had been seen daily at a number of sites dotted around Scilly.

So the 23rd April was targeted only have to move the date to the 24th following a late notice hospital appointment. Looked though we were going to lose our flight monies as it was less than 24 hours notice. Following an impassioned plea to the Isles of Scilly travel , i managed to get an empathetic manager to change the flights for £60 instead of £320. Boy can i grovel! That sorted Rob was to bring himself over to mine at 0300 on the Friday. Nice !?

No one overslept so we were on our way, on schedule.  The near 5 hour journey dragged a bit , but we made healthy progress arriving at Lands End airport at 0750 ready for our 0831 flight . We were greeted ( were we f### ) with the news that the flights were cancelled due to wind direction and visibility. WTF !!

A 15 minute flight arriving at 0850 had just turned into a near 3 hour cruise on a sh##y flat bottomed boat ( AKA the Scillonian ) scheduled to arrive at 1200. Is this bird a jinx for us !? With no option other than drive to Penzance we wearily got on with it.

On the boat we go. We eventually camp on the Lower deck to try and avoid the roller coaster ride that comes with a boat without a keel ! On board entertainment (DIY) included an impossible crossword , snacks from our reserves more out of boredom than hunger and futile attempts to find out if the GBH was around. So, with our plans severely compromised and no news to go on we disembarked at 1210 with glasses borderline half full/empty.

Given the lack of news , we decided to head for Bryher where the bird was favouring mostly.  I assume the skipper hadn't waited !? Other birders joined us making 12 in total , getting the fare down to £5 each.

Water Taxi the " Falcon ".

By 1225 we were on Bryher and on our way to the pool by Hell Bay hotel where the GBH was most commonly seen. Still no news ! Hearts were partly dampened , heads a little hung and tales of woe were already being created that would go down in the dipping halls of infamy.

As the throng of birders approached the pool there was still no sign of the GBH at a distance , Two birders were on the far side , they could see us, no body language to put a spring in the step. Closer examination was required. On we went. There by the waters edge was another birder. He looked semi-professional , you know, the kind of Sunday afternoon birder that us serious birders / twitchers can be all too dismissive of. He had some intel !

There had been a large Heron that had flown in but had conveniently moved out of sight in tall vegetation at the back of the pool. Oh yeah, really !? Apparently , he had gone in to the hotel to use the toilet so the permutations were becoming exponential.

Arrggghhhh !! The non-natives were now getting really restless. ' Lets move around to get a better view ' et al. Baaaa . The flock of sheep clambered their way with varying degrees of guile , via a few natural obstacles . Corroboration was established. The bird WAS there and it had YET to fly off. Belief ? It was becoming palpable. Did i even hear some praying ?

Then , hallelujah. ' A  sign '. A large Heron came flying into view. Within seconds ( following borderline hysteria from those that couldn't see the fly in ) the GREAT BLUE HERON myth for the two of us became a reality .

The presence of the ' in person' bird surpassed the images that, up til now, we could only ruefully appreciate. This was the ' real deal '. Manly, and less than manly , congratulations rippled through the 15 or so conectees. Relief made birders stand an inch or two taller and we feasted our eyes for a good 10-12 minutes , whilst the Heron huffed and puffed to the sound of cameras and iPhones gorging on capturing images that would be scrutinized in the hours to come.

The bird eventually had it's fill and was soon to take to the wing. This lumbering giant slowly meandered off towards the far side of Tresco with a Herring Gull or two as , no doubt, an unwelcome escourt . So, with the pressure off and two hours before we were to be ferried back to St.Mary's the prospect of some birding took shape , we looked for some Golden Oriole , but alas. Who cares - GBH !!.

We enjoyed looking at some migrants washing them down with a pot of tea - oh , how civilized the happy twitcher can be. As 1530 approached the reverse journey was about to commence with the Falcon on hand to speed us back to the quay at Hugh town.

Up to 10 hours of travelling and sitting on our derries to follow , The sweet victory of success will greatly help. And its true , ' every cloud has a silver lining '. Ours will be a re found on the difference between flying and sailing on a coracle !! 
Should get home by 1145 and 0200 respectively . 

Did someone mention Lady A !!?

Thanks very much Kevin for that lively , amusing take on quite an adventure .