The long staying Lytham Ross's Gull had been an occasional topic of conversation between myself and Andy Latham (should we?). With clearing skies and the prospect of a fine bank holiday Monday in Shropshire (= no birds), we opted to leave my car at VP and blast off up North. I was in danger of getting into trouble as this was merely (as I left home) a morning trip to North of the County. Erm, forgot to add the words 'of Lancashire'.....
Captain Kirk (me) eat your heart out. After a 6.30 start, we were stood over 'Grannys Bay' less than two hours later. Not a Granny in sight, they emerged later, lots of joggers but more importantly not a Ross's either!
This has been one of the most confiding and long staying of 'megas' this year. Was today going to be the day it headed back up to it's Arctic North?
Amazingly, we bumped into another Shropshire birder who had 'escaped' - nice to meet Anthony from Maesbury!! We teamed up and wiled away the encroaching tide, wader watching. There were in exces of 1,000 Knot with decent numbers of Dunlin, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Oystercatchers, Turnstone and a real 'turn up' - a single Purple Sandpiper!! How many of those have you seen amongst a beach wader flock?! Bar-tailed Godwit and Sanderling flying across too.
Try playing 'Spot the Purple Sandpiper!
The tide, as paint duly dries, came in and still no Ross's. Everyone seemed content to sit and wait but we were getting itchy feet. We walked North past Fairhaven Lake and eventually found a smiling birder! Ross's just around the corner on the sea! The pace quickened somewhat.....
Oh you little beauty!!
As close as it got!
All of a sudden the thought of having this bird down to 5 metres was forgotten - it wasn't going to happen anyway but at least I got one brief chance for some distant record flight shots!
Just look at that wedge shaped tail!
We had to fend off numerous comments from the locals who had totally p***ed us off by crowing how good it had been showing all week... Apart from their dogs causing mayhem, a loose sort of translation from proceedings was along the lines of....
Eckie thump Vera, yon Birdaz lookint Rossis Gull. I'll nip downt' Rovers an tellum!
We called in at Newton marsh where the wader tally got a real boost: Spotted Redshank, Redshank, Ruff, whimbrel and Lapwing. There were in excess of 100 Black tailed Godwits here too!!
Neumanns flash beckoned on the return journey. The pair of Black-singed Stilts now sitting and sharing this duty - one parent briefly caught in open water.....
Never a dull moment on the return journey either! Whether it was the V8 engine tuned truck which Andy valiantly failed to catch or the 4WD tosser who dared to tailgate us (he crawled for several miles in our 'very carefully' driven bendy stretch wake!)
Then, back to VP and what had we missed. The entries in the book for 5th May 2008? Totally, totally blank - absolutely nothing!!