Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Curlew

After a great trip to Northumberland, I decided to break-up the lengthy return journey by booking into a campsite just outside Bury St. Edmunds. I thought this would enable me to do a bit of sightseeing in the area and ensure I didn’t have to do too much travelling in one go.

England is bigUnfortunately, my geographical idiocy had struck again. I popped the campsite’s post code into the sat-nav and recoiled in horror as it informed me that I would reach my destination in five and a half hours. Five and a half hours?? What? Really?

I had estimated that the journey would take two and a half at most.

Why, in spite of living in Britain for my entire life, did I not know how big the bloody country was? Did it all stem from me opting to take history instead of geography in year nine? Or would I still be a moron if I had opted for a different humanity?

In recent times, I had discovered that the Farne Islands was not the Shetland Isles… and that Bury St Edmunds was not anywhere near halfway between Bamburgh in Northumberland and Reigate in Surrey. I wonder if this new knowledge qualified me for an honorary GCSE in geography?

Five and a half hours, one toilet stop in a grubby service station just south of Leeds and a death-defying drive through a monsoon later I arrived at the campsite with just enough time to throw the tent up and ‘cook’ some couscous for tea before the fall of darkness.

If I’m honest, I didn’t sleep too well – Mainly through excitement at the thought eyeing-up some new nature in the morning, but also due to the fact that I was woken at 4am by the ear-splitting roar of the engines of an aeroplane seemingly flying about ten-feet above the tent. It was so low, that I thought it was going to join me in my sleeping bag.

I was aware that the campsite was right next to a military airbase as the website had mentioned that it was popular with aviation enthusiasts, but I never expected the US Air-force to be simulating strafing runs (obviously without the shooting bit) at night directly over my head.

Is that a Nimrod in your pyjamas or are you just pleased to see me?

Is that a Nimrod in your pyjamas or are you just pleased to see me?

Having somehow survived the night’s military manoeuvres, a trip to Lackford Lakes afforded my best ever views of Kingfishers. Usually, the only sight you get of one is a flash of blue as it darts past. This time, however, a juvenile sat a few feet away on a stick for a good ten minutes before being joined and fed a fish almost the same size as it by a parent.

Kingfisher

Kingfisher

Kingfisher

Kingfisher

Kingfisher

Kingfisher

The following new bird species for this trip all had one thing in common – They were all seen from a long, long way away in the distant distance and tested my hand steadiness with my camera on 200x digital zoom to the full…

New Sightings – Sponsored by Hubble Telescopes Ltd

Stone Curlew... Apparently, people used to think that looking one in the eye cured jaundice

Stone Curlew… Apparently, people used to think that looking one in the eye cured jaundice

Turtle Dove... On the second day of Christmas my true love only gave me half the number I was expecting!

Turtle Dove… On the second day of Christmas my true love only gave me half the number I was expecting!

Black-Winged Stilt

Black-Winged Stilt

This is how far away the Black-Winged Stilt was...

This is how far away the Black-Winged Stilt was…

Great White Egret

Great White Egret

The Great White Egret is a very uncommon visitor to the UK and I was excited to spot one in the waterway on the outskirts of RSPB Lakenheath Fen. I haven’t found a scarce bird myself before (anything uncommon has always been pointed out by others), so it was extra exciting to make the discovery. To commemorate the occasion, I thought I’d report my sighting to the Bird Guides people who provide the location of interesting birds to people who have signed-up to their app (the app I signed-up for a month out of interest and keep forgetting to cancel!) – It’s sort of a bird-stalking service for… er… bird stalkers.

Before submitting, I spent ages checking and re-checking that it was actually what I thought it was. I didn’t want to report a Great White Egret when it was actually a swan… Or, heaven forbid, a Little Egret. I then spent ages trying to craft an interesting sentence to make my report sound a balance of factually accurate and fascinating.

Within a few minutes, my report was on the system – For the first time ever, I had found and reported a bird of interest. After all these months, I was finally contributing to the bird-spotting community. I had not been as proud as this since I learned to tie my shoelaces the grown-up way (just a couple of months ago). Strangely, however, they edited my ‘interesting’ sentence – It clearly wasn’t as interesting as I had thought.

I wasn't as interesting as I had thought...

Clearly, I wasn’t as interesting as I had thought…

I wonder how much of this blog post would be left if the Bird Guides editing team got their hands on it…

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About mixaeljones

Hello! I try to undertake a yearly challenge and write about it in a semi-witty manner. I often use twenty words when three will do. I am also a big fan of terrible puns and taking unintentionally blurry photographs of wildlife. In 2013 I tried to eat a food I hadn't eaten before each week (I got to 28!), in 2014 I attempted to seek out as many species of bird as I could in the year (I got to 201!) and in 2015 I delved head first into the world of butterflies and tried to see as many different types as possible (44!)... I've also done some belly dancing, been Father Christmas and nearly played tennis against Bjorn Borg. If any of this seems like it might be of interest, feel free to check out my blogs... Comments encouraged! Have a nice day :)
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