I've been working down at Slinbridge for the last couple of days and chaired a meeting for most of that time. Some of the subject matter was a little dry, but it was great to have useful discussions on the future of managing captive Baer's Pochards and wether or not they'll contribute to any future conservation breeding projects. Excellent contributions from my ace colleagues made it even more interesting.
Being away from home when a storm rages is a rare occurrence and not much fun, plenty of damage to Burscough while I was away, including our back gates being trashed; at least we didn't have our back door smashed in....
The game at Goodison was cancelled so at least I'll get to go to that game! Sitting having a pint with a Kopite colleague as their score was coming in wasn't ideal to be honest, especially while worrying about the family at home.
The meeting today was lively to say the least and as chair I managed to get one of the best seats - overlooking the Tack Piece, a flooded area of wet grassland. It was seething with huge flocks of Lapwings, Golden Plovers, Teal and Wigeon, with a supporting cast of European White-fronts, Bewick's Swans and a group of four Common Cranes. Peter Scott's avian Serengeti in action! These were occasional distractions while discussing the merits of colour marking wildfowl.
Post meeting I was keen to get home prior to the next storm predicted for Friday. However, I took little detour and armed with fine directions from Martin McGill I headed to Shirehill Farm in South Glos to search out the Red-flanked Bluetail that's recently taken up residence alongside Broodmead Brook. I was fortunate to see this amazing little bird (similar size to a Robin) straightaway and although it must be familiar with the hail storms it encountered today, on its Taiga breeding grounds, I'm sure it'd be much happier wintering somewhere in South Asia. It did seem to enjoy the mealworms but down for it though! A beautiful bird and I'm glad I went to have a look at it; the last one I saw was in Finland several years back.
I was able to reflect on its beauty and I slowly trudged up the M5/M6 this evening. Birding certainly does create memories of great birds and great places that can be called on during more humdrum and routine times.
Raven over Shirehill Farm this afternoon