Tuesday, 12 October 2010

***Green Heron in the Lost Valley***

Since my last post concerning my 250th yeartick for this year, each day since then, has been what I can only say as being extremely busy! I haven't been able to find time for a blog update, so here 'they' are.. Apologies to anyone who has been awaiting for this particular trip's post..

The 4th October saw myself and Zac watching the Yellow-Browed warbler up at Soldier's point on Anglesey, but little did we know what we were going to embark upon on the Wednesday night that week. Lectures from 9am-5am for the first 3 days of the week and Thursday and Friday off..

A long-staying Juvenile Woodchat Shrike up at Hartlepool Headland in Cleveland was supposed to be our destination for early on Thursday morning. However, on Wednesday night when we called a meeting at my flat to discuss tomorrow's itinerary, logging onto RBA {Rare Bird Alert}, it was soon apparent that there was a Green Heron down in Cornwall.. The last time this american heron turned up, I was unaware of it's presence due to the lack of rarity news at the time and the fact that I wasn't twitching then didn't help matters.. When the next one turned up I was determined that I would twitch it! So I did but with some company this time!

On the Wednesday night it took us 20 mintues if that, to turn our attentions to Cornwall instead of Hartlepool and rather sharply shall we say, checked train times down to St Austell etc.. I have to admit when asking Zac if he wanted to twitch it, his words were:- ''I'm up for it''. That was that and we were off!

Running round like a headless chicken sorting my gear out, we met 5 mintues later outside my flat and sprinted down to Bangor station in order to catch the 9:07 train to Crewe that evening.
On arrival in Crewe at 11pm that night, we settled down in a warm waiting room with some comfy seats, as we were going to sleep overnight and catch the 5am train down to St Austell in the morning. A change at Birmingham and Exeter was all it took. Although our night at Crewe station was rather eventful. It was spent lying awake listening to folk snoring like hogs, a drunk guy kicking chairs about in an attempt to make a bed for himself for the night and at 3am on thursday morning a rather 'mad' bloke mopping the floor and cleaning the tables!! Come one were trying to sleep here people! End result was no sleep, but we managed an hour or so on the journey down south..

Several hours later at 11am with a short change at Exeter St.Davids station, we pulled up to St Austell train station in Cornwall! A quick taxi journey to 'The Lost Gardens of Heligan', a £10 entrance fee, 1 mile walk and we were greeted by a large group of fellow twitchers! Soon after, the heron showed and we couldn't believe what we had accomplished until we caught sight of...our..first.. Green Heron!!!

This little pond was the site where the Green heron was showing. 'A rather herony site if ever I saw one'.

The bird wasn't showing well at all when we first got there but at least we could see that it was a Green heron and the views were now tickable!

During the afternoon, the bird dissapeared several times; half an hour being the longest, but when we were about to leave, the bird showed extremely well on the far side of the lake for about 20 minutes! Most stunningly, it was in the open at this point and seeing as though I hadn't managed to digiscope this bird at all and was photographless, it walked onto a log in proper american heron fashion, enabling me to snap off a few shots, these ones being the best! The bird being in heavy wing moult too!

This bird has to be the best twitched bird of 2010 and was an absolute stonker! Thinking about it now, this particular journey has to be my longest train twitch yet.

The afternoon passed quickly and soon it was 3pm and it was time to leave. A short bus journey from the gardens back to the station and then back on the train, arriving back into Bangor at exactly 2am on the Friday morning! Thankfully I had the day off to recover...

Overall, a rather expensive twitch but one that will stay with me forever. A fantastic bird and 251 for the year. What's next I wonder?!

To see Zac's account of this eventful and hugely successfull twitch, plus slightly better images of the Green Heron, visit http://zacswildlifeblog.blogspot.com/

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