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14 April 2015
Gropper way to start the day
The day was tanking slowly as a large group of birders (well three) escorted Mr Lethbridge off the patch: like gulls following a trawler they've learnt that things happen after he leaves. Obstensibly we were looking for yesterday's Sedge Warbler but a message from Tim changed all that, and then the day went crazy! Reeling Gropper in the Old Sewage Works.
Marco charged off on his bike, while Mr L, Dan and I hot footed it behind. I texted Barry B, who was on ouzel watch, an alternative to fruitless thrush hunting. His answer a Red-legged Partridge wandering around the paths on the flats. Now here was a kind of dilemma. Gropper, obviously the better bird, but a Partridge! only old Badger Bob had been privy to the last record of one of them. We of course went for the warbler, hoping that the RLP would survive ending up the wrong end of a dog in the meantime.
We met Marco at the top of the OSW studying a bramble and thorn patch. For twenty minutes we helped him watch this patch - full of Dunnock and Robin and a very grey Chiffy, which all had us going. Then the gropper sang, close by and glorious. It even showed a couple of times, needless to say the best views I've had of this reclusive bird.
Jono was the first to break, late for work he thought to give the RLP a go on the way to the station. We stayed put and were joined by Tim,who'd finished his reptile/breeding bird survey for the morning. A Peregrine circled overhead and then a Tree Pipit called and landed nearby in a tree. When it flew off it was joined by two others as it sailed off over the park. Things as they say were cooking.
Now we decided to hunt the game bird that had managed to elude Mr L, but not before a coffee on the way. We met Barry, who had not seen anything since his last text, and with no immediate Red-legged action we wandered over to the SSSI to tick Bob's Whitethroat (fresh in that morning). That took all of 20 seconds when we got to the tree it was in, so I veered back back on news that Marco had the RLP doing the paths again. By the time I got there he'd lost it. You had one thing to do Marco!
Thirty minutes of circling the brooms and I find it sauntering about the main path. Job done and a patch life tick in among a four tick day, now if only a Redstart would appear. Dan would get that pleasure later that afternoon. Can't be too greedy I suppose...