Wednesday, 17 October 2012
Bogged down with dips (17th October)
Today was terrible in short! I only got to bed by 3:30am this morning with essays due later in the day and I was desperately doing a crash course into Double-crested Cormorant ID in preparation for an early morning stint down at Swanpool to try and connect with the reported possible Double-crested Cormorant reported down there by non other than my lecturer Stuart Bearhop! I was the only one on scene when the sun rose but it wasn't too difficult to confirm the absence of any unusual looking cormorant species (not sure if this counts as my first dip of the day?). After a round of the reservoir I had still not found anything remotely good. The mood was brightener greatly when I bumped into Lawrence a third year student also studying at Exeter Uni Cornwall Campus and together we did a second route around the pool only to see 2 Mediterranean Gulls Larus melanocephalus flushed up by a careless dog walker. Our next attempt was to try and connect with the Yellow-browed Warbler in the relatively nearby woodland at Swanvale. We trudged through the wood at a slow pace waiting for its call but me with my inexperience of Y-bW calls I didn't pick up the two notes it gave that Lawrence managed to hear (I blame my inexperience on Herts with only 4 previous records). My second dip of the day. I had to be back by 11am for a tutorial so left Lawrence who later texted me of the news of a Purple Heron at College Reservoir this was literally only a few hundred meters down the road! I got the bike and sped to the sight as quickly as possible only to realise I was the only birder present. I scanned for a while from the dam before drawing a blank. Next, I decided to check the small section of reedbed north of the reservoir but nothing there either. For my third approach, I climbed up some of the fields to try and get a view over the southern end of the lake but this was also unsuccessful so I resorted to tramping all the way round the western edge were I also couldn't relocate the bird. This ordeal was getting rather exasperating, I needed a tick and fast! From the western bank I noticed two birders intently staring at the eastern facing side of the island so quickly hurried back all the way back bypassing the dam and down the muddy track on the eastern side. It got worse and worse as the mud turned into a bog but I couldn't give up now. Sacrificing by shoes and lower half of the trousers, I kept going until I realised it was an absolutely ludicrous idea there was no way I could get any further. I returned soiled in mud back to the dam (pun intended) for a rethink and plan my next strategy of attack. This was equally unsuccessful as I decided to cycle down the western edge of the reservoir once again and retrace my steps northwards on the eastern edge. I got to the southern tip of the reservoir but with some gunshots going off in the near vicinity I didn't want to trespass over the farmland to try and reach the area where the other two birders were stood (I still have no idea in the slightest how they ever reached that spot). Finally and very frustratingly I decided to dip it was time to return to Uni, knuckle down and do some statistics.