Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Racing the Reaper

Computers are meant to make life easier, well that's the theory, but after a few hours of being increasingly frustrated at trying to make a new computer program at work actually work, I had had enough.  News of a Western Orphean Warbler trapped up at Hartlepool in the morning was tempting but for most of the morning, I just put that to one side but once the computer program started to play up and frustrations built, suddenly the Orphean seemed like a good idea and a plan was hatched.  Unfortunately, I had a boiler repair man coming at lunchtime so had to wait in for him which meant a quick get away was not on the cards.  As he dallied and dithered and drank his coffee, updates confirmed the warbler was still present, and eventually, just before 2pm he was finished and I was off....

As I pulled in to the petrol station I got a text message from Nick saying "Sounds like you may have a race against the reaper! It has yet to move (other than breathing)".  The pager had failed to mention the fact that it may not actually still be alive by the time I got there but as I was already committed to going, I carried on.  Thankfully the traffic was flowing and I made good time and news that the bird was indeed mobile was encouraging. Arriving at a very busy bowling green on Hartlepool Headland just after 6pm, within minutes the bird flicked across into a tamarisk and showed well looking quite active for a bird reportedly at death's door for several minutes before dropping out of sight.  Moments later, there was a flurry of activity as the bird once again appeared sat in a patch of sun and there it stayed back on to the crowd, virtually motionless for the next hour, allowing me to get a poor phonescoped shot.

By the time I left at 7.30pm, it had not moved an inch and anyone turning up and seeing that can not possibly have ticked the bird on those views since it wasn't even obvious it was still breathing!!  It was obviously a unwell bird, sitting fluffed up for hours at a time, and I will be amazed if it still alive tomorrow morning...

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