Gavin Haig of the excellent Not Quite Scilly blog recently wrote an post concerning 'phasing'. This is a state of mind where birding doesn't hold the same appeal as it once had. It's someone birders drift in and out of and is someone I can definitely relate to. I'd say my interest in birding is always there in some form or other, but I have to be honest and say I have fluctuated into this phasing state on many occasions this year. There have been numerous times I simply haven't been arsed with it all.
The local patch has been shelved for a couple of months and when I have had the time to go birding I've chosen to go on a twitch more than do patch work. Of late, I've gone over to Cliffe Pools a couple of times to try and locate the juvenile Marsh Sandpiper that has been present for some weeks now.
The first attempt was a couple of weeks ago, prior to a visit to my mum's in Margate. I managed to get to Cliffe about 15 minutes before a Peregrine had flown over the area and had sent all the waders and gulls up into the air. It meant the Marsh Sandpiper, having been in a spot where views were good on Radar Pool, had cleared off and completely disappeared. It wasn't seen again all that day.
|A juvenile Black-winged Stilt at Cliffe Pools
I gave the site another go last Saturday, prior to a trip up north to Lincolnshire for work. I bumped into two pals I hadn't seen for a while, Mark Elsoffer and Steve Minhinnick (the infamous Smutty Birders from Tices Meadow), and while the banter was good, a successful twitch was looking decidedly suspect.
|The Smutty Birders on tour
After another walk alongside Radar Pool down to a closer position we eventually were on to it. A smashing little wader, the Marsh Sandpiper had obviously given up sleeping and was feeding alongside some Greenshank. The two Spoonbill were also in attendance.
|Distant – but it's there. The Marsh Sandpiper on Radar Pool
The weather had been atrocious all day on Wednesday and unseasonably windy yesterday, so I was fairly confident the Wood Sandpiper would still be about. And fortunately it was, sleeping with the two Green Sandpiper on the southern Moors pools next to the railway line.
|A patch lifer – a Wood Sandpiper on the Moors at Holmethorpe
It eventually woke up to preen so I got to see it properly next to its green cousins. A really nice bird for the patch.
So now my birding juices have begun to flow again, although my predominant urge, with the weather as it is, is to go on a seawatch. Unfortunately, the best place for that currently is in Cornwall at Porthgwarra. What a great place that must be. Another year perhaps...