So, John informed me yesterday that on his visit to Middleton while I was stuck at work, he ticked the reported White Rumped Sandpiper. He then let me know he had had Brambling and my bogey bird, the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. I replied to his text messages with a short succinct reply of only two words, the second one being "off!" A good afternoon of ticks though.
Anyway Thursday, and the White Rumped Sandpiper is again reported. I manage to leave work like a Whippet out of the traps at 3.35pm. The plan being a 10 min drive to Middleton and a brisk 10 min walk to the North end of the complex. This i felt would give me about 40 mins before I lost the daylight. On my arrival I met a birder who Informed me he had indeed seen the White Rumped Sandpiper only half hour earlier. Result!
I pulled on boots, put on my coat, hung binoculars round neck and scope on back and we are off. Quick glance at feeding station, No Brambling. Bastard!
Can't hang about, race to use the remaining daylight to see the White Rumped Sandpiper. Remain alert along Mill Plantation for Lesser Spot. No surprise with this one, not a chance. I can't find one when taking my time about it, so the slight canter I was moving at didn't prove to be a winner!
Then as I reached about the two thirds along Mill Plantation stage, my North Pit in 10 mins plan started to hit problems. Namely copious amounts of slippery and past ankle deep mud. This situation remained pretty constant all the way to the North Pit.
When I arrived there, I was hot, knackered and aching from the pace I had tried to maintain. I quickly set up the scope and started scanning the area. I reckon it was around 30 mins later, that I had to concede and abandon the search. The light had gone.
So, a complete failure. I started heading back towards the car park at a much more leisurely pace, cursing the rapidly failing light, the mud that slowed me down and the fact birds keep being found while I'm at work.
Just as I squelched up to Fishers Mill, I was cheered up by cracking views of a Barn Owl hunting the grass along the canal hedgerow. I stood a good 5 minutes and watched this awesome spectacle. It made me feel that maybe it had all been worth it after all . Who knows, that White Rumped Sandpiper may hang around for the weekend? Here's hoping. With my first Brambling thrown in, and maybe a glimpse of a Lesser Spot too? Well, if you have to hope for good luck, you may as well aim high.