Friday 12 February 2016

Wet Through but I Find a Rare American

Friday 12th February        Fresh SE       Rain for most of the day
Fifty shades of Green, my route today will involve three ferries. One over to The Isle of Wight, Lymington to Yarmouth. Another will take me on the chain ferry at Cowes, west to east and the final ferry will take me to Portsmouth from Ryde. If I see the bird though. If not it will be another night on the island and another search tomorrow.

So with Green credentials diminished I get to the first ferry with seconds to spare before it sets sail.
Rain is falling heavily as I leave Yarmouth on the road to Newport. Reaching that town I find the excellent cycle path that runs along the west bank of the Medina river. I need to find Pinkmead and do so, finding it to be a private house with a large garden of cut grass beside the river. With only a single vantage point offering good viewing of the garden I start to scan the area looking for the greater yellowlegs, yet another extremely rare American wader. This one is the only one of this species in Britain at the moment and I need to find it.
I can't. It is high tide and there are godwits, oystercatchers, redshanks and lapwing but no sign of the mega rarity. I walk away from this clear viewing position to search for any other place where ne can scan the garden but to no avail. It has a border of thick bushes and trees and only small areas can be seen at a time. The tide is at a perfect level to bring all of the river's waders ashore and I am feeling a bit worried that the bird is not going to be here. After all it was last reported last Sunday. My feeling though is that this is due to the lack of birders going over from the Mainland to see it and not it having left.
I see a bird on the bank beside a pond-like inlet beside some tall white poplar trees. Bird number 163 goes onto the list and I photograph it after celebrating on having found the greater yellowlegs. I text Phil then I look at the photographs again and realise that I have photographed the yellowlegs. Instead I have a bad photograph of a redshank! 

The bird was quite distant but I have no excuse for photographing the wrong bird despite my adrenaline pumped excitement.
I search for the yellowlegs and can't see it. Panic! I need a photograph. Then there it is, much closer than before and I lay down horizontal on the tarmac of the cycle path, in the rain, to steady myself to ensure photographs and video are OK. Phew. That was close to an embarrassing disaster.

Bird on the list after an hour and a half of a soggy search, I carry on to Ryde and celebrate with a cup of hot chocolate and two crumpets at a cafe. I am soaked but as always, very happy. Yes, I am suffering excessive happiness. The young girl serving me sits for a chat. She is twenty one and relates her work with the people of the jungle, that is the refugee and economic migrant camp at Calais. This wonderful woman volunteers help there and takes van loads of food and supplies out to the people stranded there. She tells me of some of the refugees stories and how they have been conned by traffickers into believing that the people of Britain want them to come to the United Kingdom. Many have been abused as they have traveled through Europe and their hopes and dreams for themselves and their loved ones are smashed as they end up in the squalid and dangerous conditions of the Jungle. Those that do make it to Britain are interred in prison like camps. This woman is a breath of fresh air compared to some of the people I have met down in the south. A girl of determination, empathy and compassion with a sense of humour and enthusiasm.
To Ryde to get a ticket, I board the ferry there wet through once more due to the heavy rain constantly falling. The Spinnacker Tower in Portsmouth is seen through raindrops on the ferry windows.

The year list stands at 163. This is twenty ahead of where I was this time last year.

21.96 miles 1052 feet elevation up 1091 elevation down

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