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