One of the very last places I thought I'd be twitching, let alone seeing a 10th record for Britain in form of a Crag Martin, was a historic church located in the middle of Chesterfield city centre. The bird has remarkable remained faithful to the city commuting between the famous old crooked spire and the Proact Stadium (home to Chesterfield FC).
|The famous crooked spire|
News alerted us on a miserable Sunday lunchtime back on 8th November and after a quick exit from North Wales, we found ourselves dipping this first winter beauty. Disheartened and truly gutted, this autumn was obviously just not happening for us knowing that our chances of it sticking it out for a week was unfavorable. However, the unthinkable occurred and after a tense and stressful week, the Crag Martin was still present come Friday lunchtime. It seemed to have a pattern - the bird was regularly sighted around 9am and but was rarely ever seen after 2pm.. Up this this point, we hadn't learnt where it was commuting between throughout the day but from Saturday afternoon, this was discovered to be the Proact Stadium. This also happened to be where the bird was roosting!
|Birders lined up right up the highstreet|
Saturday morning started cold, quiet with the element of suspense. If were were going to see the Crag Martin, it had to be before 11am at the latest. With the weather suitable for a Crag Martin, we were secretly and silently confident that we would strike lucky. 150-200 birders were present by 9am and the general consensus was that if the bird was still local, it would show imminently. 9:30 came, and no sign - 10am... still nothing - maybe it was too cold? 10:30 approached and it we were starting to acquire the feeling that it wasn't going to show... Maybe it had moved on ahead of the incoming weather front? A couple of birders had given up, packed up and gone. 10:45 broke and suddenly news swept across when a 'hirindine' shot behind the tower of the church. The Crag Martin!!
You could hear the relief of the 200+ birders that had almost written off seeing the bird! It intermittently spent the next 40 minutes twisting and turning around the crooked spire of the church. I for one was blown away by how fast it cut through the air. Acquiring pictures was very hard especially with a small Powershot camera like mine so silhouettes were the best it could produce
|Can just about make out the Crag Martin heading for the 12!|
It was well worth the wait and really good to see the details closely as it passed within a matter of metres above my head. Bringing me within a handful of birds to reach the milestone of 400, the Crag Martin was my 386th bird in Britain and 10th 'mega' bird of the year!