Dawn Marsh Harrier

Dawn Marsh Harrier

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Beauty and the Beast

I got a phone call from Brendan last Friday morning. He'd got the madcap notion of driving through the night to the far flung tip of Cornwall to see a Pelican. For a moment I didn't believe he was serious but he was. Like most people I've seen Pelicans before at the zoo. Like most people I've walked past them with little more than a cursory glance as they're just brutishly ugly monstrosities that engulf bucket loads of fish. There was little evidence to suggest that this Cornish individual was any more a genuine vagrant than the ones I've largely ignored at the zoo and yet Brendan seemed to think it was a good idea to to get up in the middle of the night and drive the best part of 300 miles in the hope of getting distant views of one on a reservoir. A truly absurd idea!!!

So needless to say, I met up with Brendan, Chris and Dave a little before 02.30am and we embarked on the long journey South-West. By 07.15 we were parked in a layby looking down over Drift Reservoir just outside Penzance. No sign of any abominable beast bird from here so we drove a little further up the lane to the next pull in where we could see further up the arms of the reservoir. Immediately we could see a large pale shape on the far bank. A large pale shape which became a huge ugly Dalmation Pelican when viewed through the bins.

Note the diminutive looking Grey Heron to the right for size comparison.

After a good preen to make sure it was looking it's best, our lumbering leviathan took to the water.

A clearly freaked out swan launched an attack on it, causing it to flap across the water with all the grace of a stricken airliner.

It was amazing to watch it fishing in as much as it was amazing it managed to catch any fish. Stealth and speed of strike were clearly not the technique as it clumsily flapped and lunged, but catch fish it did.

It eventually drifted into a bay closer to us offering slightly better views before disappearing behind a reed bed.

So the beast was in the bag and some beauty was called for. On the way home was Devon and in Devon there are Cirl Buntings. I recon Mother Nature had a hangover from hell the day she created the poor old Pelican but her inspirational juices were certainly flowing when she produced the Cirl Bunting. A pit stop in Penzance to refuel the car and a nice healthy birders breakfast at McDonalds and we were back on the road. A small detour off the A30 took us to Labrador Bay and just yards from the car park we were soon drooling over crippling views of these little stunners.

Gloriously coloured, testosterone pumped males sang for the females and didn't seem to object to us admiring the performance at all. All this plus an ice cream van in the car park. What more could you want.

So thanks to Brendan and his mad ideas, a great day out was had by all. And whilst I'm on the subject of thanking Brendan, what a sterling bit of driving to Cornwall and back in a day. That job lot of Monster certainly came in handy. 

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