Bash, Captain Blain and I had been getting a bit concerned about getting Shoveler on the list this spring. Autumn could prove to be quite tricky, when the leaves would be on the trees and views of most of the surrounding pits obscured.
But at lunchtime today, I took a call from Bash, who was birding Derek Whites Egg's Pits from Biggleswade Common (you used to be able to bird at the site, but it has recently been bought by a shooting syndicate). ''Pair of Shoveler at Derek's!'' he said excitedly. ''What!'' I replied ''I've got lunch in five minutes, so I'll go to the plateau.'' I replied.
I've never twitched Shoveler before and I don't think I'm ever likely to again (unless we do this next year, of course) and certainly not at a mile range in damp, overcast conditions. As I scanned the pit on c.50x zoom, I could just about make out Coot, Great Crested Grebe, Black-headed Gull, but no Shoveler. After about 20 minutes, I was starting to get panicky, but then, there they were, in all their....erm....glory. I've never been happier to get crap views of distant Shoveler.
Shoveler, 93 and OTL