Caught by the River

The Bird Effect Diaries

Ceri Levy | 5th March 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 3.

Saturday October 10th

Off we go to Aggie for the Pipit. Sure enough, in the meantime, as predicted, someone on St Agnes has indeed declared the bird to be a Blyth’s Pipit. We get off the boat and race round to Beady Pool at the bottom of Wingletang Down, where the bird is happily wandering and feeding out in the open, allowing easy views for all and immediately there is a murmur that someone would have to be a fool to think it is a Blyth’s. Jim takes 305 photos of the bird and everyone readily agrees after a considerable study period that it is a Tawny Pipit after all. It’s still a pretty good bird to see and I’m happy seeing anything really.

Below is a photo of everyone watching the bird apart from one lone birder on the right of picture who decides to look the other way. He must have known something…

The Tawny Pipit – Courtesy of Jim Lawrence

Everyone relaxes into the day on St Agnes and we go and see a Rose-Coloured Starling that has appeared when suddenly we have an emergency on our hands. There has been a possible sighting of an Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler on St Mary’s. This would be a major tick and a life tick for a lot of people I know and we have to work out a way to get back to St Mary’s as the normal boat to take us back is not due for a few more hours, which of course could prove to be way too late. This is a serious business but someone manages to procure The Cyclone, a powerful and fast boat, which can take 12 people at a fiver a head. It’s all a bit James Bond but well worth the money as our boat screams across the surface of the water. On the boat it’s like a group of the oldest six year olds in town but you can feel the tension amongst our group, whilst for me it is pure fun. I love boats! It’s a glorious day and I bask in the soothing sunlight unconcerned by the air of apprehension. Someone has phoned ahead and Spider will be waiting for us in his taxi at the quay to ferry us to the site, which is at a place called Content.

By speaking to the landowner, taxi-birder Spider, has managed to get the private field opened up, which all the birders on the island are now flooding into. The hush of reverence is upon the crowd as all bins and scopes focus in the general area of the sighting. People have even flown over from the mainland to twitch this but several hours later no bird has appeared to play to its audience, and the murmurs go round that perhaps there had not been a bird here at all, or that it had been wrongly ID’d. All that appears within the trees are various chiff chaffs and a few tits, and the moaning from the gathering of birders continues. It’s nearing the end of the day and I want to go and watch England play Ukraine in a World Cup qualifier. I have managed to increase my suntan and also my bird list, thanks to a Black Redstart, but no Bonelli’s, which by the way was never seen again. I leave behind a field full of the stench of discontent in Content.

I go to the Bishop and Wolf to watch the England game. Jim’s flatmates are there. Clive, Clive, Simon, Henry, Steve and Pete. Jim’s at home cooking the dinner. The game is the first pay-per-view England game to only be available on the Internet, and due to the novelty value of such an event we have a beer or four. Okay, we would have anyway, but we have a pretty good reason to start a little earlier than normal.

The pub is screening the game in three connecting rooms on three different screens, streamed by three separate computers, which means there is a twelve second delay between each room because all the computers had their start buttons pressed at varying times. It causes a Mexican wave aural effect and seeing as we are in the last delay room there is never a surprise with the football. It makes completely unsatisfactory viewing with an unsatisfactory result as England lose 1-0.

Later, after the pubs shut we find ourselves in a wedding reception downstairs at The Mermaid. We are accosted by possibly the worst Elvis impersonator of all time, who regales us with bad Elvis covers and shows us bad Elvis photos of his different, bad Elvis outfits, but it’s a wedding, and we allow him to serenade us with a version of Love Me Tender, while The Strokes “Last Night” plays on the sound system driving the revellers into a frenzy of catapulting bodies on the dance floor while mouths move in motion to unknown words other than “Last Night”. It’s a funny night as we see quite a few familiar faces very much the worse for wear, making fools of themselves, dancing in that way only the Brits can do to prove an innate lack of rhythm and co-ordination, which is usually brought about by an internal attack of too much beer. I’m probably just jealous. It’s a late night had by all, although I feel comforted by a Titfield Thunderbolt moment as the policeman standing outside the venue says good night to all and sundry as they leave. Maybe he says it to make sure that everyone gets the hint and do go home and end the night sooner, rather than keep him up even later. But he smiles in a genial village bobby way. “Show me the way to go home…”