Sunday, 15 November 2015

Crag Martin, Crooked Spire & a mighty hangover

My best shot of the Crag Martin
The Crooked Spire of Chesterfield
Spot the bird ?
Crag Martin on right
Two areas that Crag Martin is located
Chesterfield FC

I almost fell off the work chair when I saw an update from Rare Bird Alert at the beginning of last week that a Crag Martin had been found by patch birder Roy Frost flying around the Crooked Spire,Chesterfield, Derbyshire. It was only the 10th ever sighting of the species in the UK, so the question would be would it stick around. The big listers were already on the way so it was a mighty relief when it was re-found the following morning. 

Accepted records for Crag Martin spread across six months - Britain’s first, at Stithians Reservoir in Cornwall was found on June 22nd 1988 with the second following less than three weeks later, in East Sussex, heading over Beachy Head.Two autumn birds came next, in early September 1989 at Llanfairfechan (Gwynedd) and six years later, on October 8th 1995, again at Beachy Head. The first-ever twitchable bird came along to another inland East Midlands county, thanks to the amazing bird at Swithland Reservoir on April 17th 1999, a bird which famously moved north to Pugneys CP (West Yorkshire) the following day. The second bird of 1999 (unless it was actually the same one…) departed our shores out of Orkney on May 3rd and a seven year+ gap followed until the latest record (until now) was noted at Badshot Lea (Surrey) on October 22nd 2006. Another south coast record came along in 2008, one seen in West Sussex, at Truleigh Hill on September 21st and April’s third record (and just the second “available” one) came along last spring for a three-day stay around Flamborough Head. (What may turn out to be April’s 4th was noted briefly on the Isle of Wight this spring of course). Read Roy Frost's finder in the field article. (RBA)

With out being able to get away from work until the weekend, Saturday's poor forecast and the bird not being reported until late ended the idea to go then so I decided to head up on Sunday morning. I do wish I'd perhaps not been mixing the wine on previous evening as I woke with a cracking headache so the car radio volume had to stay on low. I opted to head to the home of Chesterfield FC first as the bird had been reported there last the previous evening.

I found around sixty birders had already had dawn views of the Crag Martin when I arrived at 9.30am however I didn't have to wait more than five minutes before I saw the bird flying above the stadium around the floodlight. The bird could also been inside flying under the eaves of the stands. Twice the bird flew out of the stadium vicinity and could be seen above the local housing. Given I was in Chesterfield I thought I'd head to the crooked spire anyway as its a land mark I've always wanted to see close up. Once parked up (£1.10 per hour) I was crossing the road when the Crag Martin past over head towards the spire. As I reached the church ground the bird was whizzing around the steeple delighting an audience of around 150 birders. 

With digiscoping out of the question I did try my hand with my SLR and managed to get a couple of distant record shots. 

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