Wednesday, 9 December 2009

GREAT NORTHERN DIVER briefly at Amwell today

How many Herts birders have got Great Northern Diver on their garden list? Well, that good fortune came my way today - of course it didn't actually land in the garden (though I do have a 2x1 metre pond should the next one come in a bit lower) - but I had a nice view of one flying over Ware from my spare room window (the room I am sitting in now typing this) this morning. I will have to admit it wasn't the result of endless hours of patient logging of visible migration over Ware - it was a case of more than just a little bit of help from my friends.

At about 11.30 Bill Last phoned me at work to say he was watching a GREAT NORTHERN DIVER on the main pit at Amwell NR - it had just that minute been found by Colin Wills. This was too good to miss and I was soon running home (it's only 300 metres from my office) to get my car and head to Amwell - GNDiver is one of only about 6 species on the Amwell list that I need - so I was pretty excited about gripping it back - also I have been stuck on an Amwell year list of 139 for over a month (this is my equal best ever year list, a total that I have achieved about 3 times before) - so it looked like I was going to pass that barrier and make my highest ever total. Just as I was reaching my car Bill phoned again with the distressing news that the bird had flown off south down the Lee Valley - disconsolately I headed back towards work - another couple of minutes passed and Bill was on the phone again - the Diver had now just flown back over the viewpoint at Amwell heading high north towards Ware. I have a pretty good view over Ware from my spare room window - so I legged it back home, up the stairs and started scanning desperately. For about a minute I couldn't see anything and then suddenly there it was heading straight towards me (it was probably over Ware high street by this time). It flew straight towards my house for some time before veering south west towards the river Lee - it then seemed to turn back towards Amwell and I was just about to go and get in the car and head there when it turned again on a westerly heading - it was clearly over Kingsmead by this point - I saw it go above the A10 flyover and finally lost it to sight heading directly towards Hertford at about 11.40.

I tried to convince myself the bird was still over Amwell when I first saw it, but sadly I have to conclude that it wasn't. I know there has been debate on this group before about what constitutes a garden tick (for the purists it must land in the garden) - but it's on my own garden list - end of story (Barry Reed)

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