Sunday, 16 June 2013

Pacific Swift

On Friday night it looked like it was going to be a quiet weekend. There had been little on the pager for East Anglia during the week and the south-westerly winds did not promise much. That all changed with the Mega alert at 10.20 on Saturday morning. I had seen the 1993 Cley Pacific Swift so I had no need to panic but with news that it was lingering, the fact it was only 1 1/4 hours drive away and it was a fantastic bird I decided to make the trip south. First I  walked the marshes to check the sheep and newly arrived cows and was delayed when I had to hunt out a missing cow and call her owner when I found her in the long grass trying to calve. It was now 12.05 and I had arranged to get my daughter to a pre-flute exam rehearsal in Norwich at 5.30pm, which would mean leaving home at 4.50. Doing a quick sum in my head I worked out I could make it there and back in time if everything went to plan. My husband nobly volunteered to stay behind and take her if my mission failed.
It was a less stressful drive than for the Cley bird but the closer  to Trimley I got the higher my adrenaline started to rise. There was parking chaos when I arrived at Cordys Lane so I parked up just past the railway crossing and set off at a brisk pace on the long walk to the reserve. The sun was shining but ominous dark clouds were gathering distantly and knowing swifts often move in front of bad weather made the walk that little bit more anxious. There was a steady stream of birders leaving the site with encouraging words. There were many familiar faces but there was no time to stop for a chat and a brief hello had to suffice.
I eventually arrived at what was a surprisingly small group of birders lined up on the river wall and got on to the Swift almost immediately. It was giving excellent views feeding back and forth over a surprisingly small section of the lagoon in front of us all and made the long walk very worthwhile indeed.
Sticking to schedule I turned for home. The walk back was a little more relaxed but the clouds were getting blacker and it started to rain on the last stretch as I approached the first of the parked cars. I made it back to mine just as the deluge hit grateful I wasn't one of those making the walk out. I still had a deadline to meet and the spray on the A14 and A12 made the first part of the drive home a little hazardous. However I made it home at 4.47, threw my daughter in the car and made it to the rehearsal dead on time - phew!
Today was much more peaceful. I took the girls and our dog to Strutt your Mutt at Benacre Park. We arrived at lunchtime and the girls insisted we do the stalls and the dog show before starting one of the walks. We eventually started the 2 mile walk at 3.15 but having done part of it the girls insisted on returning to the show leaving me to finish it on my own. Two miles must have been an underestimate as it must have taken me another 40 minutes to finish it but it went through usually private parts of the Benacre Estate which is part of a National Nature Reserve. Next year I'll do it earlier as there could be potentially excellent birding as the trail wound through ancient woodland and out to the back of Benacre Broad. I heard Bittern booming and saw Marsh Harrier and Buzzard. Information boards also indicated sites for Woodlark but mid-afternoon all was quiet and worrying the girls would be concerned where I was I did much of the walk at Swift pace.

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