Bryher's Great Pool is not very great, and we had visions of the first hikers or dog walkers of the morning flushing the bird to who knows where, so we determined that if we were to go Saturday, it would have to be as early as possible. My normal preferred mode of transport to Scilly, the Scillonian, was leaving an hour late due to tides, and the thought of a long boat journey followed by a stressful island-hopping session with limited time to see the bird really didn't appeal. So we resolved to fly, and I reached for the most unloved book on my birding bookshelf: the cheque book.
|The GBH: it caused a fair amount of GBH to the nervous systems of British twitchers this week|
So with plans confirmed, only fog could stop us now. Or perhaps high winds. Maybe mechanical failure. Not forgetting extreme tides, logistical incompetence, car breakdown, roadworks on the A30, sleeping through the alarm or having a catastrophic last minute loss of bottle. Yes, only those things could stop us now. I got a surprisingly good night's kip before Steve tapped at the door at some ungodly time, and pausing only to pick up the third member of our party, Richard Webb, who was on the same flight, thus reuniting 75% of our Dorset birdrace team, we headed west into the night.
|The Bittern-like posture adopted by the GBH in response to mobbing by Gulls|
Some twitchers go to pieces at times like this, losing tripods, mobile phones, car keys etc in their single-minded pursuit of a rare bird. So, as we pulled away from the quay, it was no great surprise when one of our boarding party announced he had left his wallet in the taxi, and, abandoning his telescope, leapt back on to the quay at some personal risk to himself, ignoring the entreaties of the rest of us to retrieve it later. At least his mate was on board to look after his gear, but was unable to persuade the skipper, whose propeller was dangerously close to hitting the bottom, to wait or go back when the hapless jumper reappeared at the top of the steps waving his arms and begging to be let back on. Had a vote been taken at this point about whether or not to return, I am not sure the human spirit would have been cast in the best possible light. Fortunately, the laws of the sea are not subject to the whims of democracy, and the captain's decision being final, off we steamed in the direction of Bryher.
|The Heron was imperious in flight|
We watched for a few minutes from our distant vantage point, I took a few very poor record shots, and then some walkers appeared from the beach, the Heron put up and started flying straight towards us. Oh dear: we had seen it, but if it kept going, the next boatload, and the hordes who we assumed would be just getting comfortable on the Scillonian, would not. Accusations of flushing on Birdforum by the sourpuss trolls who live under its many dark bridges would surely follow. Worst of all, the pal of Man Overboard, who had been watching the GBH through Man Overboard's telescope, would have to break this news to his driver for the trip. That could be a frosty journey home, we thought.
|'It's coming right at us!'|
|I fumbled, and failed, to find the right exposure in the morning gloom - but photos weren't the priority: I had just seen a Great Blue Heron in Britain|