Saturday, 7 February 2015

Who let me have a car? - 7th February 2015

I've had a car for just over three weeks now and it only took me this long to drive on a long twitch for the first time. Serins, particularly to a northern birder, are a very very difficult bird to connect with as they are rarely seen for long periods and even fewer stick around for a few days.
It was therefore just too tempting when two males were hanging around Gunners Park in Shoeburyness near Southend, Essex.
I set off from mine in Preston at 01:15, meeting Scott at Lymm Services at 02:00. A few loops of the 'get psyched' CD and we arrived in Oxford for 05:00 to pick up Liam. The sat nav said we'd arrive at Gunners Park at 07:15 which was ideal. All was going marvellously well until 05:50 when we got to near Slough on the M40 and came across a very recently exploded lorry! It was filled with beds and propane gas tanks, which made quite an impact as towers of flames lifted above the blackened shell of the lorry and even thicker black smoke poured out over the motorway. There was no way past and the fire engines and other emergency services got involved. We just had to sit there with the engines off waiting for the police to come up with a solution. 07:15 tumbled past and it started getting light but we were no closer! By 08:45 we finally we able to move, but remarkably, we were asked to turn around and go back the way we came. It was very surreal driving the wrong way along a motorway 'racing' the cars travelling on the other side of the central reservation. A 15 mile detour onto the M4 saw up being back on track and ready to get to Essex.
We arrived at the painfully late time of 10:45 with the Serins being last seen thirty minutes before arrival. By 12:00 there was still no sign, but Liam had seen a small green finch fly up into a pine tree away from their usual haunt that he was adamant to be the Serin. With a bit of patience, Liam and Ephraim managed to pin down the bird in the middle of a pine sitting in the sun. We all piled over and got superb views of the adult male and presumed 1st winter bird. These really are STUNNING birds and after all that hassle, it definitely seemed to be worth the effort.
We started making the long trip back and I ended up getting back in the house by 19:30. 18 hours after leaving and 611 miles later! Not a bad way to introduce myself to long-distance twitch driving!

A great day, despite the frustration at times! Very memorable nonetheless.

No comments: