Saturday, September 03, 2005

An unplanned monster ride - and a wader triple-whammy! 197 species in total.

I'd been waiting for the last few commoner passage waders with increasing trepidation as September began, and at last information arrived of one of them at The Vyne, with the bird still present this morning. I headed noth-east for the long, straight and rather boring ride to Basingstoke, and beyond the town to the flooded watermeadows where the bird had been reported. It didn't take long to find - Wood Sandpiper on the list! Many thanks to Martin Pitt for the very accurate local knowledge. Also a few Green Sands, Snipe and a young Peregrine here, the latter panicking all the waders just as I was leaving.

But my plans of a return in time for a late lunch were quickly shattered by breaking news from Titchfield - a quick route plan and very large gulp at the hilliness and distance of the route, and I was away. My legs felt empty on the ride south to Alresford, but a lunch injection and extra water intake did the trick there, and it was on (via some nasty hills I've been avoiding all year) to Cheriton, Kilmeston, Droxford and down the Meon valley to Wickham. From there, I was back on a familiar route, and by mid-afternoon, I was at the Haven. I saved paying for my ticket until after doing the hides (but I was honest!) - from the Meon Shore hide, the Little Stint was quickly bagged, but the news regarding the other target species was less good - it had apparently flown 'high up the valley' half an hour before.

Undaunted, I trudged round to the next hide, and scanned the north scrape - the news sounded better here! After maybe ten minutes, I locked on to a scruffy brown looking wader among a group of maybe half a dozen Curlew Sandpipers - yes! Pectoral Sandpiper also nailed!

Photo by Peter Raby

Elated but really shattered and dehydrated, I headed off (via the ticket booth and water refill), and sped (not!) the 1.5 hours ride home - it was nearer 2 this time!

A huge 145km (or 90 miles) covered today - and my legs are telling me about it - but well worth it - three in a day at this stage of the year was pretty unexpected.