I arrived with the first rays of the sun to find I was the only soul there, but by the time I had got my boots on and prepped my camera two local guys had turned up. One, a warden for the area, gave me a tantalising tour of all the locations where the bird had been feeding and roosting the previous day. The other walked through the caravan park where it was last seen to look for it there. My companion explained how tame it had been and how he was surprised a cat or fox hadn't taken it already.
|The underwing pattern of the Great Snipe. If it was walking around your boots on Sunday or Monday, you may not have got to see this feature.
If I have hit a lower ebb in fifteen years of pursuing rare birds my admittedly poor memory can't recall it. But before self-pity really took hold I had to remind myself that while I may have just voluntarily sacrificed a few hours sleep and a day's holiday, the poor old Snipe had paid a much heavier price for its unintentional appearance on these shores. Suddenly Spurn felt dismal and cold, and after a phone call home, which was met with a mixture of sympathy and mirth (mostly mirth), and more supportive calls from Steve and Paul, who knew I was thinking of going - thanks guys - I hit the road.
|I'll spare you a picture of the front of the bird, which is where the cat really did the damage.
The parallels were uneasy: both birds in their third day at Spurn and on both occasions I had to get back for late afternoon commitments so either had to go first thing and have a chance, or not go and have no chance. I even used the same parking space at the Bluebell car park. I have been consciously taking more risks to add to my British list as it grinds to a halt, but perhaps I'll rethink my twitching strategy, and revert to my previous policy of only going for sure things which have stuck around for ages where I can't possibly fail.
|This was on my doormat when I got home. Probably for the best that Tiddles wasn't in my shed.