Very occasionally I like to reminisce and think of good days gone by. Most actually involve the numerous acts of debauchery I've committed during my 'career' (two sisters within 12 hrs, a 56yr old milf, various threesomes etc) but occasionally I often recall the odd birding experience and whilst sampling a few drams of the finest scotch, I drift off into an ornithological wonderland and relive days gone by....
I started birding (or birdwatching actually) when I was around 10 when my old man used to take me to King's Mill Res, Notts, on Sunday mornings & I'd gleefully tick off such dross as Green Warbler & Crag Martin etc and by the age of 12 I'd ticked Middle Spotted Woodpecker in Sherwood Forest (non-birders reading this won't appreciate how mistaken I was).
One memory that does stand out during the very early years is bagging my first Bittern at Cauldwell Dam, near Mansfield, in c1993, after my dad was tipped off by a bloke who apparently worked for the National Geographic. Now, I can vaguely remember the bird, a small brown streaky heron perched in a bush adjacent to a very small water body - the fact that it was in late May annoys me somewhat, plus, that no record of this bird exists anywhere other than in me & my dads memories, although I am aware that the National Geographic bloke did pap some pics but sadly I've never been able to track him down.
Within a few years I'd got involved with some old codgers from the Pleasley area and in 1996 at the tender age of 15/16 I managed to bag quality in the form of Redhead (Notts), Lesser Scaup (on my patch - King's Mill Res, Notts), American Coot (Kent), Little Bustard (Cornwall), Great Knot (Seal Sands), LBD (Notts), Tawny Pip (Cornwall), RTP (Derbys), Subalp (Dorset), Pallas's & YBW (Dorset), Izzy & Lesser Grey Shrike (Norfolk), Arctic Roll (Norfolk), Northern Waterthrush (Dorset) & Indigo Bunting (Ramsey Island) amongst other things.
'97 followed with more star value Pied-blled Grebe (London), Little Bittern (Somerset), Canvasback (Norfolk), Surf Scoter (Norfolk), Little Crake (Kent), Black throated Thrush (Derbys) & Great Reed Warbler (Notts)...oh and a self found Great Grey Shrike in Notts... but (and this is the apex of this post...at last) it's a particular weekend in mid May that inevitably pokes it's cute little head up whenever I drift back to the mid nineties............
*taken from A4 ring binder style notes, now 14 years old*
May 17th 1997
Myself, Lester Allcock & Nigel Cross arrived in Norfolk mid afternoon (having survived Nigels insane driving in his Peugeot 309 GTI) and headed straight to Horsey where we bagged 2 Spoonbills. Around 5pm we tootled up to Salthouse and connected with 3 Temmincks Stints waddling around on 'some small pools adjacent to the Iron Road', also here an adult Med' Gull & Yellow legged Gull.
We then got a tip off regarding a pair of Golden Orioles, just inland at Glandford Triangle. Upon arrival, we joined just 4 other birders and watched as the male & female GO's lumbered around in a small Popular plantation. As the warmth of the day insidiously crawled away, a Cuckoo sang from overhead wires and a Barn Owl appeared, hunting low over the mist shrouded meadow. A pair of Turtle Doves swept low overhead and perched upon a nearby dead tree. With dusk now approaching, we headed back to the coast and in the dying throws of a May evening, we watched four Wood Sandpipers prancing around at Cley near Daukes Hide. We then headed to 'The George' and I illegally sampled a pint while we browsed Millingtons doodles in the log book. Upon leaving the pub, we headed to Salthouse Heath and enjoyed up to 4 Nightngales serenading us as we bathed beneath a still moonlit Norfolk sky. I recall that we then headed back down to the Iron Road and somewhat foolishly attempted to errect a tent! We failed and proceeded to try to sleep in the 309 but due to Nigels snoring and my excitement, myself & Lester headed for the shingle bank and it was here I tried my first of many cigarettes as I listened intently to Lesters tales of bygone twitches as I gazed upon the moons reflection upon the North Sea.
The next morning, I awoke, aching like a c*nt due to the gravel, and wandered down the Iron Road and shared the daybreak with the remaining Temmincks Stint on the roadside Pools (the other two having done one during the night). Once again, a Barn Owl, a purring Turtle Dove & cuckooing Cuckoo greeted the morning sun. The next few hours are rather hazy but I believe that I was made to ring Birdline and upon doing so I gleaned news of a Subalp' at Blakeney Point so we trudged the 3ml to the end only to discover that I'd f*cked up big style and the bird was actually at the Cley 'end' of Blakeney! Ooops!! My notes then state that we headed to Hickling for a Red Footed Falcon but we dipped that (although Nigel did lose his right hand wing mirror due to a collision with a BMW down a very tight country lane). Another call to Birdline had us bombing towards Sheringham where we gained crippling views of a mint summer plum' Red-throated Pipit on the cliff top just west of the golf course. As we headed back home on that Sunday evening, I was bathing in a wave of pure ecstasy as I relived the the bangin' birds I'd had the pleasure of seeing during the weekend..........so much so that I was for a while blissfully unaware that Nigel had pulled up at the Wolferton Triangle and him and Lester were perving on two male Golden Pheasants that were trotting around the road side verges!
Well, there you go, that was the weekend that was. I've subsequently had some shit hot days/weekends in Norfolk (well, maybe one or two) but that weekend in 1997 is one I always return to when I start to get bored/f*cked off with the current scene.
Now feel free to vomit.