Caught by the River

The Bird Effect Diaries

Ceri Levy | 1st February 2010

The diary of the making of a film. and an on going fascination with birds and their accompanying cast of human characters. By Ceri Levy. Read previous entries, starting here.

Isles Of Scilly – Part 2
Tuesday October 6th

I’m off to the island of Tresco this morning to hopefully see a Long-Billed Dowitcher, which has taken up residence on the Abbey Pool. This is a pretty rare American migrant wader and would be a really good bird with which to start this year’s Scilly bird proceedings. I get to see it quickly as it shows well and a Pectoral Sandpiper is also pointed out to me, as well as a Black-Necked Grebe. That’s three ticks for me. Seeing this triumvirate of birds is a nice and superbly easy start to the day, and I head off confidently to see another uncommon bird, a Common Rosefinch, which has been showing well in a nearby Quinoa field, situated just around the corner from the Pool. My step quickens as I expect an equally quick result.

On arrival at the field, I join the line of twenty or so birders on the footpath and I make some new acquaintances as we chat amongst ourselves while waiting for the bird, which has already been seen several times this morning, to reappear. A birder next to me predicts it will be a particularly underwhelming experience when we finally see it. This is because, at this time of year, the Rosefinch, has a distinct lack of rosiness, and is more of a little brown job than anything else. With my ardour dampened, I start clock watching. We have been here thirty-five minutes already. Time passes slower and slower and people start to slope off as boredom sets in. Below is the view I had for the best part of two hours. And that was the only view I had for two hours, although I quite enjoyed chatting to the other birders and eating my Cornish Pastie.

Happy that I am not the first to quit I gladly pack up my scope and head off with a few other birders to see what else is about. We leave and one man, who has only recently arrived at the Quinoa field, remains on site and we wish him the best of luck. Tresco is a beautiful island, and we wander here and there without seeing any special birds in particular, but I am happy enough just taking in the scenery and inhaling this unbelievable, gloriously clean and fresh air. On the boat back, filled with a sense of enormous well being, we see the man we had left behind. It turns out he has quite a bad stutter but finally he manages to get out the fact that shortly after we left the field, the bird appeared to him and another man who is also on the boat and who verifies the sighting. It’s a big dip, but you have to laugh at the irony of all that waiting to no avail, then clearing off, and the bird then appearing to these two last men standing. Bloody birds.

Wednesday October 7th

Rain, rain and then even more rain. I find myself walking in the descending monsoon just like the people I used to laugh at. It is absolutely torrential and for some reason I won’t go home. That’s probably because I have not been here too long and am determined to do some walking and birding, no matter what weather I am confronted with. After all, I’m not a novice birder now, and there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. I have an epiphany and realise I am embarrassing myself here, as even the most dedicated of birders have already gone home and are staying inside their quarters. I decide to head for a hide at Shooters’ Pool and once inside the dry hut I decide not to leave until I have at least seen a water rail. They are often heard in the reeds here but not so readily seen. After an hour and three quarters one walks across my field of vision and disappears again, leaving me with no option but to brave the continual deluge, and return home as my challenge has now been completed and there is nothing whatsoever moving outside on the Pool. I quite enjoyed it in the hide as I contemplated life, birds and filmmaking, but now I need a hot shower and a cuppa. Within half an hour of returning home, the weather has changed and after warming up and changing my attire I am back out and find a Whimbrel on Porthloo Beach.