30 October 2010

Quick to be slow, to be ready to be quick

It's 1991, four fresh-faced whipper-snappers zoom north in the comfort of a Mark II Vauxhall Astra. Halfway up the M6, one member of the team, a little hungover and decidedly grey-faced, winds down the window and, despite squeals of "Don't throw up out the front of the window!", proceeds to pebble-dash himself and a sizeable proportion of the inside of the car (including much of the ceiling) with a fine aerosol of diced carrots and partially digested whiskey. Those of us in the back cower behind seats and below hastily grabbed jackets and Rhino shirts (remember those? [Oh my! You can still get them! Click here]). A brief stop and we're off again, front seat passenger miserably dabbing at stubborn bile-coloured concretions with newly acquired mineral water and mansize tissues. Then we're into Lancashire, Blackpool looms on signpost then horizon and a screech of brakes announces our arrival at Marton Mere. In freezing conditions, three of us enjoyed excellent views of American Bittern, one of us, despite getting the same views, probably didn't revel in the experience quite as gleefully.

I knew that puke-stained trip would pay off one day. And today was the day. No early start for me, no need to waste a Saturday stood plotting the untimely demise of red Goretex-wearing, arse-gravy spouting, NerdForum regulars. No, for me, a leisurely rise, a polite "No thanks" to the offer of a lift to Cornwall and a relaxing cuppa and bowl of porridge.

But then it all went MENTAL! A phone call from the field, a report of untold ornithological riches just down the road. Mug and bowl flew, spoon described graceful arc towards sink, missed, and ended up in the dog's bowl. Cameras, bins, gubbins grabbed and, with a crash of front door, the house was silent. Fine motes slowly sink down sunbeams onto carpet and mantelpiece, dustily echoing the eddies of the recently exited.

Anyhoo, VVVRRROOOOOOM! EEEEEEEEEK! And I tumble onto the tarmac at Fourteen Locks. A laden jog down the lane and it's Ynys-y-Fro to the left of me, Ynys-y-fro to the right of me, a frantic scan,... there! Not one, not two, but three of the most beautiful apparitions of anatidae you could possibly hope to gaze on.

The, now regular, Pochard x something (personally, I'm not convinced on Scaup), or even Pochard x something x Pochard? More on this bird, including better pictures, can be seen here, here, here and here.

Pochard x Ferruginous Duck, presumably the same bird as that which appeared on Wentwood Reservoir last winter and possibly from various locations in earlier years (see here).

The star of the show, Red-crested Pochard x aythya hybrid, a hybrid tick for me, have seen Red-crested Pochard x Mallard before though, as illustrated earlier in the year here (though seen and photographed many moons previous to the post).

I will endeavour to get much better pictures when I get some midweek spare time,... they deserve it. I wonder what the life expectancy for an aythya hybrid might be? We might have decades of this sort of stuff to look forward to,... yay!

PS. 1 Crossbill, 4 Skylark and plenty of Siskins overhead between 12:00 and 13:00, and two Great Black-backed Gulls on the lower basin too.


Duncan Watson said...

Ahh yes, I remember that day in 1991 well... Never did get the puke stains off the car, either inside or outside. The guy I sold the car to eventually even tried to get me to reduce the price because of them (although I'm not sure he realised exactly what they were)! Like you though, very glad it has saved a trip to Cornwall this weekend...

Unknown said...

No, not my finest hour! I don't know if it was a result of my post-vomit dehydration, but I have a vague memory of hearing a water vole squeak as it was lanced by the American Bittern... I can't remember the bird though.

Darryl said...

I remember the Water Vole. Was starting to doubt my sanity on that one but we can't both be losing it. Wasn't there a Cetti's Warbler knocking around too?

You must have a similar recollection of the bittern as I do of the Holyhead White-bile Diver.

Unknown said...

Ah yes. My notes record that your prolonged ralphing was due to an undercooked Lean Cuisine Pasta Bake, or was that just your cover story?

Darryl said...

I'd forgotten the brand, but it was definitely an under-microwaved pasta bake that took me down. Haven't eaten one since, which is why I haven't been unconscious next to an RNLI station recently.