Tuesday, 12 May 2009

140 NOT OUT...


Yes folks it is with great joy and honour that I can confirm we triumphed yet again in the gruelling hard as nails 24 hour Cheshire Birdathon. Three teams took part, many more were invited but most bottled before the off. The Wizzlers were nowhere to be seen (150 species on a sea watch is pushing it I suppose) but the good old chaps from Sandbach had a go as did Groucho's mob.
The Scores on the doors:- Comberbach Casuals 140..........Groucho's Mob 136 and the Flashers 113!!!.
A close call but we won yet again with a very creditable score and possibly the 2nd highest ever in Cheshire (143 being the all time record to my knowledge cos I hold it, unsubstantiated rumours of 149 are just that) we'll have to see how we fare in the Birdwatch 'BigDay' National standings.


After weeks of planning well actually a chat during the half time interval in the match between United and the Wenger Boys our team The Comberbach Casuals had an itinerary of sorts. Astoundingly similar to the well prepared and planned 2008 DayList we were poised once again to take on the challenge. The Casuals 2009 consisted of Howard 'Fearless Fred' Fearn, Malc 'Le Donis aka The Landlord' Curtin, John 'The Insomniac' Gregory and yours truly. Surely with such talent, expertise and good looks we'd out wit, out bird and out play the assembled array of shifty ugly opposition.
As per usual we start on the Wizzal and as last year fall at the first hurdle, no Gropper and no Water Rail (I told you we should of started at you know where). An hour later we're at you know where and yes no Gropper and no Water Rail (don't listen to me again) the night is saved when at one of our stakeouts Barn Owl is whapped...we're off and running.
Dawn and the Casuals are freezing their bits off on The Cat & Fiddle the sun is refusing to come out and play so not much shows in the arctic conditions. We spot the Sandbach crew stood over the border in Derbyshire!! is this some cunning plan they've hatched or is their SatNav jinxed?only time will tell. Groucho's mob arrive at The Chimney (Rouzel stakeout) just as we're leaving, good morning pleasantries are exchanged and various finger gestures waved at each other..nice. The local patch is next and waiting for us at Ashton's layby is Jono who's lined up our transport for the quick circuit of Neumann's and Marbury....four mountain bikes!!!! this cunning plan works a treat as we grip all three Woodpeckers, Lesser Throat, Cuckoo (seen calling) and jammy for me cos its a patch yearlist tick a Ringed Plover on Kidbrooke spit.

Knackered and rather sweaty we zip up the motorway to our next cunning stunt (careful) Dove Point Bird Observatory. This actually turns out to be Jane Turners third floor office but what a view awaits us (out of the window that is). Five minutes later Groucho's mob arrive and the look on their faces as we've claimed the prime spot for seawatching is a picture. They have to content themselves with JT's bedroom balcony but alls fair in love and bird racing. The best seawatch on a daylist ever then ensues, we rack up Red Throated Diver, Manxie, Little, Common and Sandwich Tern, Gannet, Scoter, RBM, Guillemot and even Arctic Skua awesome. This is all helped along with a cup of tea from the hostess and a visit by Mr Wizzal himself Phil.

Groucho's mob arriving at Dove Point Bird Obs deciding on which pie Mr Powell should eat next.
The Casuals in close nit viewing formation count the windmills out in the Irish Sea, next time me and Malc will bring boxes to stand on.

More Casual action and yes we didn't go to Spain to seawatch the flags belong to the local Wizzal lifeguard.
Various other Cheshire sites or is that sights are visited as we near our winning score none of which I can mention as they're all top secret except for IMF (where we saw hardly anything), Sandbach (where we saw Glauc and a Barnacle goose but sod all else), North West world famous Frodsham (nothing what so ever) and Delamere (Med Gull and loads of tourists). We finished late into the evening gripping back Gropper and finally Little Owl but no Water Rail (the first miss ever on a daylist for this reedbed dwelling little skulker).
A day full of quality and quantity with many highs and some lows if only the freshwater waders had of stayed and the wintering ducks lingered on a bit longer. The weather was nearly ideal except for the dawn -5'c wind chill factor. Seawatching was awesome and shows the potential of a good blow coupled with a highish tide. Rarest bird was Spoonbill but better still was Goosander, Whooper Swan!!, the birds on the seawatch, Short eared Owl, Kingfisher (two) and 9 Crossbill. Dips were Tree Pipit, Pintail, Eider, Brent Goose, Goldeneye, Fulmar (they were out there somewhere), Marsh Harrier (still there now), Hobby, Snipe (nearly whapped), Common Sand, Greenshank, Spot Red, Turnstone, Iceland Gull (Moore and Sandbach), Cettis (heard the next day), Spot Fly?and Marsh and Willow Tits as always. Just shows the potential is still there to break that elusive 150 barrier maybe next year....bring it on!

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