Friday 18th July, relaxing at home, just about to have something to eat, Tour de France on the box, then.................. Back on the A2 'yet again' heading East towards Canterbury and the Stour Valley. I arrived at Seaton at 2020 to a birderless Seaton and Littlebourne and to make things worse, no mobile network coverage whatsoever. If the bird had been showing a mere 1/4 mile away I would have been none the wiser and therefore I set about driving the local roads and looking for big black birds!! 2105, I'd had enough of being Billy no mates in 'no mobile land' and with a distinct lack of birds I headed back home to settle down for the evening.
Saturday 19th July, 0245 I awake and drive back down the 'same route' of a few hours before to Seaton again. In position on the hillside I await the crowds only to be joined by Gibbo and the Mrs, Mike Buckland, a couple from Essex, and then shortly after Gary Howard. The next few hours saw us watching Barn Owl, Marsh Harriers, Hobbies, Sparrowhawk, Greenshank and a Little Egret, but still no big black flappy things.
Still in the land of no mobile network I return to Seaton once again with another birder and we check out the fields, but still no joy. Then suddenly, just before 0900, whilst retreating from the rain I notice a large dark bird walk off into the stream I'd just walked past.
BLACK STORK . Suddenly like a message from above, the mobile network appeared and I politely 'not' told Gary that I've got it!!
Seconds later some dog walkers flush the bird and it settles in a tree that they wander towards. Fortunately the bird remains on view as the 'crowds' appear and the rest is history so they say.
Gary, laden with his gadgets storms towards the site travelling at such velocity that his features are not frozen and in focus. JT's phone springs to life and he is matter of metres away when the news comes through and enjoys the mornings events. A relief to finally nail the bird, and memories flood back to the 'older' birders reminiscing about 'Fred' the Black Stork that escaped many years ago and stories of sheltering in barns when suddenly it was realised there were no longer 2 sheltering as 'Fred' was also in the barn!!
The 'snoozing' Stork Tree.
Brendan couldn't bear to look as his 'office' bird was taken from his grip collection and was outside of his Stour Valley recording area.