Sunday 31 March 2024

Thirty Years Ago - March 1994

12th March:

Neil, Simon and I picked up a very inebriated Adrian W from Cambridge [Eds: yet another important University function for Dr W] and set off north to Pennington Flash in Greater Manchester. We arrived at 7am to find ourselves at the tail end of a huge queue for the UKs first Black-faced Bunting that had taken up residency at the site. 

[Eds: My notes make no mention of how the twitch actually worked.  There was a small area from which to watch for the bird from a track through some planted scrub so only about 20 people could view at once.  It was however, not always on view and there was no way of moving people out once they had seen it.  Those in the know had brought step ladders and were holding position at the back of the micro-huddle. It took over four hours to get to the front but thankfully it did show well when we eventually got there as it fed with Dunnocks, Brambling, Goldfinches and Reed Buntings.  There is also no mention of the gleaming Bullfinches and bull headed Willow Tits that I can clearly remember seeing while we waited]

Its shuffling behaviour and general plumage was actually very Dunnock like. It was my 400 UK species and there was some debate about its credentials but I was not going to stand in a line of birders all day and not tick it!  [Eds: I have always had such fluid ticking morals].  With no Ross’s Gull further north we took the scenic route home.

1w male Black-faced Bunting #400

Black-faced Bunting - apologies but I do not know who took either pic that I had in my notes

Black-faced Bunting queue...

Nearly there

18th March:

It ad been a typical night down the bar at Uni – playing pool and having a laugh when I was suddenly summoned to the bar and asked to hone home urgently.  ‘Wander says that there is  a Bufflehead in Notts.  Be at his by 12.30’ was Mum’s message. [Eds: It would appear that I used the uni bar as my own Nancy’s CafĂ© but oddly I do not remember them having a phone!  Of course way back then no one had a mobile phone either.  Thankfully I was not a drinker and was always safe to escape if need be!]

The drive to Cambridge was atrocious as I had a terrible headache and was so tired that I had to wind down the window and shout at myself to keep awake.  After a couple of hours restless sleep on the sofa we joined two other Cambridge birders and dashed in a large Merc to Colwich Trout Farm.

By 6.30 we had this stunning drake in view as he fished the lake with some Goldeneye relatives. Another dodgy duck? He turned up with Goldeneye at the time of a national influx [Eds: not sure that this was ever relevant unless they all came from the USA!] and at the same time as previously accepted records.  He was fully winged and un-ringed and on my list in no time at all. – shameless.

23rd – 27th March:

Our Uni Glaciation Fieldtrip started in south Wales in the Brecon Beacons where the weather fluctuated from driving atrocious rain to glorious sunshine but as with all fieldtrips I had a great time. Raven, Peregrine, Buzzard and two Red Grouse were the southern highlights before we moved north noting three Red Kites on our way to Bangor [Eds: where I sampled my first Dublin Guinness from the student bar in the Uni where they imported their own direct!].  Peregrines were again seen and a great flock of Chough were feeding on top of the till section on Dinas Dinelle beach.

Dinas Dinelle

I do love a terminal moraine

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