Yes, as winter sets in, memories of past events come to the fore and as this blog is a year old and it's too dark to bird after work I thought I'd quickly stick in a bit of waffle.!
Nov 17th 1991. A day to remember as we drove up North to Catterick to see a Franklins' Gull. I was in the company of Keith Holland and his mum and if I remember correctly it was a very foggy day and we inadvertently ended up in a service road off one of the main roads as we couldn't see the road ahead!!
Catterick was lovely, a bit dull and foggy at times and a complete absence of a certain Mr Frankin's !!
As the day wore in and the birds seen were few, suddenly out of the blue a mobile phone rang, yes one!! They were as rare as Franklin's Gulls in those days, pre Internet, pre X factor, pre Amur Falcon !! A loud announcement was made as the phone was carefully lowered back down (they were also very large then) MUGIMAKI FLYCATCHER................ STONE CREEK..... HUMBERSIDE.
Now at this time the gathered Gull dippers looked blankly at one another as few had heard of Mugimaki Fly, but we'd all heard of Flycatcher. We quickly piled into the car, got the SAT MAP out, (the paper form) and aimed the car at Stonecreek roughly, as it was very difficult to find on our map. Eventually we arrived at the area, run along to the site and there it was a Mugimaki Flycatcher, still the only UK record and still not on the official British List as a 'wild' bird.
A case of 'Premature Tick elation' now 17 years old had developed, thinking you'd ticked a real crippler only to find out that your excitement peaked too soon and it was not tickable according to the 'national list' !!
Those heroic fog travellers that day still live in hope of a being able to get a British tick. Nowadays in these Internet controlled times we see photos of many of the birds before we've even travelled to see them, and in some cases look at them again when we realise we recorded them as a different species.
The good old days have gone, but at least the World is a 'bigger' place now with many countries no longer 'off limits' as they were in the 80's and 90's. Fortunately for some of us we've now seen many of these 'gems' abroad and some of them have even graced Kentish soil or air space.
Stonecreek also just so happens to be the site of the Green Heron of 1982 seen nearby, yet no one would ever have guessed that 26 years later one would be seen in Kent and photos of it 'available' an hour or two later!