Champions of the Flyway!

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

God Bless 'em (merica)

Meanwhile, these things are everywhere.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Into Steller's Overdrive

Still in a state of blissful aftershocking after this morning's extraordinary, almost unbelievable experience with this globe-trotting, beautiful beast of a bird. The trail of good fortune that led us here is just as extraordinary - what are the chances of effectively crossing paths with a Steller's Sea Eagle - itself on the 'wrong' side of the planet - by chance? So here's what happened....
News broke of this now infamous north-eastern Asian vagrant miraculously reappearing in Maine, NE New England, about a week ago. Incredible in of itself, but by tantalising coincidence, we were due to leave for a trip to see family and friends (over various locations in New England) just a few days later; more pertinently - after a few days at the family homestead in western Massachusetts - we were due to stay with our dear friends Kat and George here in Maine as of, well, now.
Cue... firstly, making low-expectation geographical checks: Maine is about the size of Portugal, and the eagle could easily be three or four hours away (or at least too far away to be realistically doable); and so it seemed scarcely believable when Google maps provided a journey time of twenty minutes between their house and the bird's favoured riverside haunt.
Secondly, navigating a nervous few days before we flew out here - and then another few days with Am's folks in Western Mass - walking the fine line between flickering hope (checking the alerts and social media feeds) and the calming zen of experience-tinged realism (it'll likely move on, go missing again, or at least not play ball within our critical time frame).
As the time until we headed up here grew closer and closer, as did the possibility of connecting with this incredible bird - likely a unique opportunity, given that it's so far out of normal range (and I don't expect to visit Hokkaido anytime soon, sadly) and we visit Maine, well, never (this is my first time).
Fast forward to yesterday, and our first chance to try for it. It was last reported the day before, but only briefly, at distance, and in flight; well, at least it was theoretically still in the area... we arrived at the road bridge overlooking its most recently favoured resting spot, and were soon absorbed into a 170-strong throng of hopeful birders lining the narrow hard shoulder...
No joy, no reports, and the painful possibility of the bird having moved on (in sunshine and rapidly rising temperatures). But, a pleasant couple of hours with lots of pleasant fellow birders (hi Lev, Paul, Maureen et al!), and more silent prayer to the birding gods for tomorrow....
Which is today, and as you may have guessed by now, those gods were unequivocally, unwaveringly on my side. Our experience could hardly have been more exhilarating, or perfect - but it could so easily have been the very opposite, with a succession of what-ifs falling in our favour.
We had just incredible views, as the bird (initially perched atop a tall pine on the other side of the river) took flight within three or four minutes of us arriving, before attempting (and almost succeeding) in catching a Canada Goose in front of us, and then staging what felt like a dreamlike, slow-motion fly-by as we collectively gasped in awe, before disappearing into the endless, mostly impenetrable forest landscape.
If we'd have spent those crucial three or four minutes in a variety of other ways (and we'd have arrived, like others, seconds after its dramatic exit), it's fair to say I wouldn't be sat here at the dining table, beaming at the constant flow of Bluebirds and Nuthatches visiting the garden feeders....
If we'd have spent another few minutes idly chatting with Indigo's teachers as we dropped her off at school, pre-eagle hunt (hi, Lorna!); if we'd have stopped at the bridge, just to check first; if we'd not have known which (hidden) trail to take to the more remote spot (George having been a few days previously); if we'd not have run more than half of the mile or so along the trail... so many variables, all of which went in our favour. What a morning.....
.... extra special thanks to this wonderful human - all down to him, and so great to see him on his new home turf.

Monday, February 6, 2023

Auction for Swifts #3 - Jo Ruth

The penultimate of four bespoke, original, unique artworks, all in aid of Swifts (via the wonderful work of the Sheffield Swift Network).....
This beautiful, unique, original A3 hand-printed stencil print, in gouache and acrylic, by the amazing Jo Ruth - is now available via silent auction! Bids of just £60 and over to until Feb 13th. Optional personalised message from the artist.