Champions of the Flyway!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Ivory Coast Nature

A 0700 start this morning with my esteemed colleagues from the mighty Yorkshire Coast Nature (after a late night on the lash) could have gone either way, but turned out just perfectly. 45 minutes later and we were approaching Patrington Haven (passing the caravan site where I used to live - long story) in hopeful pursuit of a very lovely immature Ivory Gull, a high octane, high Arctic wanderer that had been frequenting this particular corner of the Humber's bank for the last week or so.

Persuaded to return from its daily wanderings by a handily-provided rotting fish buffet, the bird had naturally attracted a lot pilgrims over the previous few days, and while twitching isn't generally my thing, certain birds just demand the attention. The dreaded negative reports via the bird news services (as well as the several dozen-strong huddle of statuesque birders looking in different directions) didn't bode well, and after loitering a while, we opted for a wander along the shoreline to soak up the stunning sight of hundreds of thousands of waders clouding the winter skies in swirling masses. Easily worth the trip for them alone, and if our target was to elude us, we'd lapped up a wonderful spectacle at least.

A little later, however, and word reached us of the star of the show heading upriver towards us from Sammy's Point, and so we ambled back into pole position in perfect time to watch it arrive from the east, to a fanfare of swoons and machine-gunning DSLRs. And what an absolute killer of a bird - just beautiful, and a real privilege to watch as it trotted between its favoured drinking, bathing and feeding spots, wholly disinterested in the rapidly-swelling ranks of devotees just a few metres away. After a good half an hour of stellar performance, off it drifted onto the river bank, and off we drifted back to the car, already eulogising appreciatively.

MJP, Dan, Rich  and Steve's woolly hat - Note Ivory gull just right of frozen fingetip

Back north then, but not before a celebratory lunch and nonchalant stab at Hornsea Mere's Grey Phalarope - conveniently reappearing close inshore on our arrival, and rivalling the gull for most ridiculously tame bird of the year award. Yorkshire Gold and then some.

Thanks to Dan for the blog title and Rich for the selfie - Barack who?