Saturday, 29 July 2017

An even bigger carrot-billed monster bird

I had been gardening all day and not keeping my eye on any of my communication devices. So I was a little miffed when I came in for a bite to eat to discover there had been a Black Stork in Lincolnshire for over 2 hours earlier in the day. It had now flown off.

Not to worry, I would possibly have missed it anyway and it can take over 2 hours to get to North Lincolnshire from our little corner of the county.
It was at a place called Dunsby Fen and when I looked it up I was doubly miffed, for it was just the other side of Spalding, about 40 minutes away.

Then a message from a friend. Black Stork is back. I jumped in the car, not even pausing to leave Sue a note telling where I had gone - she would work it out - and sped across the bumpy fenland roads. Just over half an hour later I pulled up along a narrow country lane where two other cars were parked. I had a nice chat to two locals who told me every detail of how and where they had seen the bird and told me in which direction it had flown when last seen. Drat. There wasn't much time left and the bird could be anywhere now, with virtually nobody looking.

I decided to take a little drive around to work out the lie of the land. But just 100 yards down the road I passed a carload of birders who informed me that the bird was sat in a dead tree just around the corner. What a stroke of luck! I left a cloud of dust behind after hearing this unexpected piece of good news. It must have been less than a minute before I got to the only obvious dead tree in the area, but there was no Black Stork perched in it. Unbelievable. I scanned everywhere but to no avail. Shortly after, another couple of cars pulled up, birders who I knew. We were pretty much back to square one, though with a faint hope that the bird would fly back into the dead tree at some point.
But time was against up. The sun was going down and our chances of success were growing slimmer by the minute. Not one to give up, I headed off along a dyke in the hope of pulling a magic rabbit out of the hat.

Time to give up

By 9.15pm it was clear that we were on a loser, so I headed homeward hoping to get back to the smallholding maybe even before Sue got back from her band practice. She wouldn't even know I had been out! But she was home and had managed to work out the reason for my absence without any explanation. She knows me well.

But the story doesn't end there. I had a feeling the bird would be feeding back in its favoured spot the next day, but not wanting to get burned twice I resolved to wait for news before heading out. Besides, I wanted to visit a pond plant centre in mid Lincolnshire so figured I could combine the two into one trip.
I awoke earlyish the next morning to news that the Black Stork had left the dead tree (yes the same one it flew into last night - goodness knows what happened there) and was stood on the track. I completed the morning routines (chickens, polytunnel etc) before heading out, this time at a more leisurely pace. When I arrived there were a lot more vehicles than the previous night and 20 or so birders were stood on a small bridge with binoculars and cameras pointing down into the dyke. The bird must be showing well for nobody was even bothering to use a telescope.

I reached the bridge and there it was, a young Black Stork feeding by the weir as bold as brass, totally unconcerned by the group of admirers up on the bridge.

Spot the stork!

Apologies for mediocre quality images, but I was just using my phone held up to the binoculars and telescope
 In fact, the bird was so unconcerned by human presence that at one point it actually perched on my finger 😀

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