Thursday, 11 November 2010

I couldn't resist this beauty!

So Tuesday gone rolled around and I was sitting in University doing some C# programming (readers open Google) and I thought for a break I would check the bird news services to see what was about. When I saw that a Pied-billed Grebe was in Manchester I had to think about going for the whole of about 10 seconds, then I started making some calls. By the end of Tuesday night myself, Adam, and The Finch (Derek) had agreed we’d go twitching in Manchester the following day.

Wednesday rolled around and at about 11 in the morning we parked in the visitor centre car park at Hollingworth Lake in Greater Manchester, the short 15 minute walk took us to a small part of this lake that was devoted to being a Nature Reserve. There under the overhanging trees was a small, fantastic looking Pied-billed Grebe. At first I couldn’t get a good view until I realised it was good to be tall and managed to set my scope up viewing the bird between the heads of a few twitchers present. It didn’t do much at first but it then started to move around and swam towards us. It gave us a little flap and it gave me a good 5-10 minutes to watch the bird and study the key ID features. It was particularly interesting to notice the size difference between the Moorhen and the Pied-billed Grebe. The best moment was probably when it swam past and headed straight towards us and then out of view. Derek was in the hide and got within about 8ft of the bird, he came out smiling having had excellent views and pictures taken. I was a bit jealous, but in a good way as I was happy Derek was able to get some pictures. It was getting crowded and the news of a Squacco Heron back in Morpeth meant we decided to leave and head back up for that. So at about 11:45 we headed off back to the car for the long drive back north.

We arrived in Morpeth about 03:15 in the afternoon; I was stressed with the traffic and was getting agitated a bit with the lads for now reason (sorry lads). We got out at a place where I was going to try and get in touch with some mates for some information on where the bird was, however this was not needed as Derek laughed as he spotted the twitchers further around. We got out gear and walked briskly toward the crowd. Just as we were arriving the bird took flight and headed past me and landed on the vegetation at our side of the river. Superb views were had, but even better views were had when it flew back across to the other side and it must have been within 50ft for about 10 minutes where excellent scope and bin views were had by all.

What a superb day with 2 superb birds, both lifers for me and the Pied-billed Grebe was the first twitchable mainland bird for about 10 years. My only regret is that I wished I had got there earlier and spent more time studying the Pied-billed Grebe. Hopefully I will get another chance with this species in the UK in the future.

(Pied-billed Grebe - Derek Charlton)

(Squacco Heron - Derek Charlton)

Until next time, Foghorn out!