Sunday, May 01, 2005

The longest ride yet - with good returns! 171 species in total

145km today, starting at 0530 - I remain "Iron Man"! Off into the dawn and south through the New Forest (beautiful), arriving at Keyhaven at about 0800 - in thick fog! Oh dear....not good for seawatching.

I gave it an hour or two around the marshes to kill time, bumping into 'the three amigos' (Tim, Marc and Russell), and saw a few good birds - Common Sandpiper was new but hardly unexpected, but there were also two Garganey (a pair) behind the Fishtail Lagoon, plus a smart Golden Plover, and Whitethroats and Sedgies in abundance, plus heard only Bearded Tits.

The sun finally looked like it was going to win the battle, so I set myself up on the beach, where I was soon joined by Marcus and Zoe, although not before scoring big time with a pale phase Arctic Skua right over my head, looking pretty lost in the fog, and tailing a Whimbrel! Also new were six Kittiwakes moving east. Things looked bright to begin with, with a few Common Scoter and a Red-throated Diver east, but it then dried up, and we were left with just the local Little Terns to look at. But dribs and drabs turned up - the best of which was an Arctic Tern with a group of five Common Terns, inevitably migrating eastwards.

I packed in just after 1300 (whereupon another Arctic Skua - much more distant - flew by!), and cycled north. I'd misjudged my fluids, and had to stop to rehydrate and rest - pounding headache! But I was OK after Brockenhurst, and decided to try a speculative side-excursion to Mark Ash Wood. Within literally seconds of entering the wood, and without even getting off the bike - a singing Wood Warbler filled the air with its shimmering glissando (did I really just write that?!). A good finish - five new ones, with some decent quality.

Postscript: I also had a singing Firecrest 'somewhere in the New Forest' today....