Clearly, no one knew where this "Garage" was located... Up and down lanes we jogged. Scopes flung over our shoulders... Looking like some loonies that had just escaped from the local Asylum, or no less, a small military invasion that had decided for no apparent reason to descend upon an unfortunate Weymouth.
But after around 15 minutes of frankly having no idea of where to go. Some nice chap pointed us in the right direction. Well, sort of. How the seaside wall by the main entrance of Lodmoor has anything to do with a Garage I do not know... Maybe Its down the road? Or maybe I was too absorbed in trying to find the Stilt Sandpiper that I didnt notice it? ( Doubt it. Could happen though. ) Anyway, this is where everyone was, to put it bluntly.
Still no sign after about 45 minutes. My Aunt had gone off for a coffee and I was starting to think about joining her. The thought of dipping out If I left was the only thing that kept my feet firmly planted on the ground. I really wanted to see this bird... I mean really wanted to see this bird. No stupid "giving in" thoughts were going to stop me.
After a while my Aunt joined us again. We were starting to debate on whether to split up and scour the rest of marsh in case it had decided to relocate to a different spot. A few people ventured off to a higher vantage point in the town, known as the "wall" to see if they could at least get a distant view of it. Phone numbers were exchanged and pagers fumbled with. I decided to head for the wall - At least a view was possible... even if it was a terrible one.
This was to be one of my better decisions. Now I would not say I am renowned for taking wrong decisions but I am pretty darn good at it... Instinct ( Lets call it that ) told me to take a different path then the other guys. The longer route to the wall, that takes in the opposite side of the mudflats, was my destination. A little way along the path me and my Aunt noticed one of our fellow birders ( that had departed from the group earlier )
had set up scope by a hedge row and was looking through his scope rather intently.
"Whats up?" I asked him eagerly. "I think I have got it" was his response. With difficultly, I stifled a "Holy Sh"t!! And I quickly raised my binoculars to connect with the bird that eluded Me, my Auntie and the rest of the birders all day. "Damn, these bushes are in the way" he and I almost said In unison. "Lets move up. I need to check all the features just in case... before I ring the others" He replied.
We shuffled up to a clear patch in the hedgerow and studied the bird. "Yep, thats it!" He almost shouted and quickly got down to ringing the other birders still at the mound and wall. It was surreal... this had to be one of the best views of the rather eluding Stilt Sandpiper all week! After a while the rest of the crew turned up and the mood swapped to one of relief and happiness. We all shook hands with the finder and congratulated him on the brilliant re - find.
No, I did not manage to take any photos of the bird... due to excitement and other things... ( Like forgetfulness ) but I stored the image of the bird in my mind. The long legs, plalish face ring and general "Jizz" of the bird stand vivid in my mind and always will. All in all, it was frankly fantastic time and one I am sure I will never forget! But... God, did we have to work for it! After the bird departed we said our good byes to bunch and set off for a quick look see around Portland.
We did not see much but I was rather lucky to pop into the obs at just the right time - While they were ringing a female Melodious Warbler! I had some pretty amazing views of the scarce little warbler and they even let me take a few photos ( Will upload later ). I made sure to see the bird fly off and land in a tree so I could tick it without feeling naughty. I Thanked the assistants, bode farewell, got into the car and we set off home. Happy with how the day turned out.